IRISH HOTEL-BOOKING FIRM GETS $1M IN FUNDING – The Irish Independent reports that an Irish hotel-booking start-up has received $1m (€730,000) in funding to expand further into European and South American markets.

Hot Hotels allows people to make same-day hotel bookings at a discount from their smartphone. The company has almost 4,000 hotels signed up to its service and typically offers late-booking discounts of up to 50%.

The funding comes from an assortment of private investors, accelerator funds and Axon Partners, which specialises in funding businesses in emerging markets such as India and South America.

The company also has plans to increase its customer base in the European mobile-only, same-day hotel booking market.

Hot Hotels operates in 43 countries and 257 cities in Europe, Africa, Asia, Latin America and Israel. The company was founded in January 2012 by Conor O'Connor, Adelaida Muriel, Joe Haslam and Jose Fernandez.


HOMEBASE RENT DEAL NETS FIRM €33M - The renegotiation by DIY chain Homebase of a number of property leases here in its recent examinership has resulted in the firm booking a €33m gain, according to The Irish Examiner.

Newly filed accounts for the Irish operations of the British-owned home improvement retailer show that the firm recorded a pre-tax profit of €27.57m in the 12 months to the beginning of March 2013. 

This followed the firm recording an €8.1m pre-tax loss in the previous year.

The chief factor behind the return to profit for Homebase House and Garden Centre Ltd was the firm booking the €33m gain, as a result of terms in a number of property leases being renegotiated in the examinership in a post-balance sheet event.

Almost 500 jobs were saved last October after the Irish arm of the DIY chain exited High Court examinership at the end of a three-month process.

A note attached to the accounts states that the renegotiation of property leases in the examinership reduced the level of onerous lease provision by €32.96m.

The firm, which now has 13 stores in Ireland, entered examinership last July after the accounts show that the firm sustained a 14% drop in revenues (from €54m to €46.3m) in its most recent financial year.


LAGARDE DISMISSES ECB CRITICISM - The head of the International Monetary Fund dismissed a European central banker’s recent remark that the IMF weighs in at his agency more than others such as the US Federal Reserve, reports The Irish Times.

“We do say what we have to say when we think that it’s appropriate to say it,” said IMF managing director Christine Lagarde.

Ms Lagarde brushed aside remarks made last week by European Central Bank president Mario Draghi, who told reporters the IMF was “extremely generous in its suggestions” regarding his bank’s policy decisions, more so than with other central banks.

He was referring to comments Ms Lagarde had made on Wednesday, one day before the ECB’s monthly policy meeting. 

She said the bank should ease monetary policy to help prices to rise, prompting Mr Draghi to question the timing of her comments.


ECCLESTONE AIMS TO REGAIN F1 - Bernie Ecclestone has said he would like to regain control of Formula One in partnership with leading teams such as Ferrari, reports The Financial Times.

This is despite his plans to step back from the day-to-day running of the motor sport.

Asked if he wanted to buy up stakes if they became available or even take over the whole of the F1 business Mr Ecclestone, who retains a 5% stake, said: “We’d certainly want control.”

He said he wanted to revive a plan drawn up some years ago for him and the teams to become controlling shareholders of F1.

In terms of his day-to-day role, the 83-year-old F1 chief executive, facing trial on bribery charges this month in Munich, said he had indentified two or three people to take over some of his responsibilities, though he declined to name them.