FACEBOOK SEEKS APPROVAL FOR MONEY SERVICE – The Irish Times reports that Facebook is close to obtaining Irish regulatory approval for providing financial services in the form of remittances and electronic money.

The social network is only weeks away from obtaining regulatory approval for a service that would allow its users to store money on Facebook and use it to pay and exchange money with others, according to several people involved in the process.

The authorisation from the Central Bank to become an “e-money” institution would allow Facebook to issue units of stored monetary value that represent a claim against the company. This e-money would be valid throughout Europe via a process known as “passporting”.

Obtaining an e-money authorisation in Ireland would require Facebook to hold capital of €350,000 and segregate funds equivalent to the amount of money it has issued, according to legal experts.


RISE IN PROFIT AT GAMES FIRM BEFORE CLOSURE – The Irish Examiner reports that the Irish arm of gaming firm, Big Fish Games, saw sharp increases in revenues and profits before its US owners decided to pull the plug with the loss of 89 jobs last year.

New figures show that Big Fish Games Ireland Ltd recorded a 48% increase in pre-tax profits from €255,057 to €377,030 in the 12 months to the end of December 2012.

This followed the firm increasing revenues by 59% from €3.47m to €5.5m in the 12 months to the end of December 2012.

At the same time, the average number of workers employed at its Irish HQ in Cork in 2012 went up by 50% from 61 to 92.

In 2012, Big Fish Games announced plans to develop a research and development (R&D) hub in Cork.

However, last August, its Seattle-based parent announced the closure of its Irish operation in Cork with the loss of 89 jobs.

This also came in spite of the Big Fish Games group globally recording an 11th straight year of record revenues and profitability.


BILL CULLEN TAKES CASE AGAINST MERRION CAPITAL – The Irish Independent reports that businessman Bill Cullen is taking a case against Merrion Capital, the stockbroker and investment adviser, a High Court listing shows.

Other defendants named in the proceedings are Ulster Bank, accountancy 'big four' PwC, insolvency firm Kavanagh Fennell and Glencullen Holdings and Cullen's former car dealership operator – which is now in an Ulster Bank appointed receivership.

The case is about a "pension-related matter" a spokesman for Mr Cullen said, adding that he could not comment further.

Cullen, who declined to comment, officially launched his new car showroom on Thursday night, where he sells the Korean Ssangyong car brand to Ireland at a new showroom on the Naas Road in Dublin, backed by wealthy haulage industry tycoon Robert 'Pino' Harris.

A former self-made multimillionaire and star of The Apprentice TV show, he ran a €100m Renault dealership franchise for Ireland before spiralling car sales and bank troubles hit.