POLISH AUTHORITY IN LAST MINUTE BID TO OVERTURN SIAC RESCUE PLAN - Building group Siac has said it intends to continue trading normally pending the outcome of a last-minute appeal that threatens to overturn a High Court-approved rescue plan for the business, writes the Irish Times. Mr Justice Peter Kelly last week gave the go-ahead to the plan under which a group of investors - including Siac’s owners, the Feighery family - agreed to put €10.5 million into the group. The firm sought court protection from its 1,255 creditors, which it owed close to €70 million, last October. However, the Supreme Court heard yesterday that GDDKiA, the Polish roads authority, which Siac itself is suing for €120 million, has launched a last-minute appeal against Justice Kelly’s decision, claiming its rights as a creditor have been unfairly prejudiced. The Chief Justice said the court would hold a priority hearing next week of the appeal by the Polish agency, which claims it is owed some €70 million by Siac companies, against the High Court’s approval of the scheme. The scheme, due to come into operation yesterday, has been deferred until Tuesday, when a three-judge Supreme Court will hear the appeal. In a statement, Siac said “until this matter is resolved the company continues to trade normally with extended court protection”. It added that the group believed that, in fact, GDDKiA owed it a substantial amount of money. Chief executive, Martin Maher, one of the rescue plan’s backers, said the group hoped the matter could be concluded early next week.
STATE MUST PAY €3.3m SECURITY BILL AFTER MISSING WINDOWS XP DEADLINE - The Government has agreed to pay €3.3m in extra fees to Microsoft for emergency IT security cover due to a missed deadline for upgrading its IT systems, says the Irish Independent. The extra cost has been agreed as the Government admits that it will not upgrade its old computer systems in time for an April 8 deadline when Microsoft cuts off most security support for its older Windows XP computer operating system. A spokesman for the Department of Public Expenditure said that the €3.3m cost will have to be paid by individual government departments. "The Office of the Government Chief Information Officer has signed a memorandum of understanding with Microsoft whereby affected organisations can get access to priority security bug fixes for 12 months from April," said a spokesman for the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. Microsoft has been warning its customers for several years about the April 8, 2014 cut-off deadline for Windows XP support. After that date, the IT giant will discontinue security support for the system.
STORE CLOSURES WILL NOT HIT IRELAND - LADBROKES - Betting and gaming giant Ladbrokes said its pending store closure plan will not affect its Irish operations, adding that its plans here surround consolidation. A spokesperson for the British company confirmed reports that the company plans to close between 40 and 50 outlets this year, writes the Irish Examiner. However, they said the move will not affect the company’s Irish retail estate and that the UK shop closures will follow two years of above average expansion. Ladbrokes said its Irish operations are unlikely to be bolstered by new store acquisitions, this year, but said “we will continue to manage the estate in terms of refurbishments and further develop our Betdaq business.” At the beginning of last year, Ladbrokes bought the Dermot Desmond-founded Betdaq betting exchange business, for an initial consideration of €30m, in a bid to further boost its digital and online offering.
LISTINGS WORTH $8.3 BILLION LINED UP IN IPO FLURRY - Europe’s initial public offering market is on track for its busiest start to the year since the financial crisis as private equity companies seek to capitalise on demand from investors hungry for more exposure to the region’s recovery, reports the Financial Times. The private equity backers of ISS, the Danish outsourcing group and Poundland, the UK discount retailer, on Tuesday announced their intention to float the companies in Copenhagen and London, just a day after GTT, the French engineering group, said it would seek a listing in Paris. Together they are seeking to sell more than $2.3 billion worth of shares. Pets at Home, the UK pet shop chain owned by KKR, is expected to follow suit in the next few days. The moves mean more than $8.3 billion worth of European IPOs are being marketed, on top of the more than $3.2 billion of flotations that have priced since the start of the year, according to data compiled by Dealogic. If all the IPOs go ahead as planned, the first quarter of 2014 will be the strongest start to the year since 2007. Gareth McCartney, head of equity syndicate at UBS in Europe, said: “Activity is picking up because markets are buoyant with attractive valuations and market conditions are expected to remain good.”