WATERFORD CRYSTAL OWNER BUYS GLASS PLANTS FROM ARDAGH - The owner of Waterford Crystal is understood have shelled out around $500m to buy six US glass manufacturing plants from Ardagh Group, which is controlled by Dublin financier Paul Coulson, according to The Irish Independent.

Ardagh is selling the plants to New York-based private equity firm KPS Capital Partners as part of a deal that helps secure approval from the US Federal Trade Commission for Ardagh's €1.3bn acquisition of Verallia North America, which is being sold by French industrial giant Saint-Gobain.

KPS bought Waterford-Wedgwood in 2009. 

The crystal and china firm owed €541m when a receiver was appointed, including €346.5m to debenture holders and €195m to unsecured creditors.

KPS paid just €6m for the Waterford Wedgwood intellectual property.

The FTC had moved to block the acquisition of Verallia by Ardagh last year, citing concerns that the price of glass containers in the United States could rise following the takeover, hurting consumers.

Since then, Ardagh and the FTC have been engaged in negotiations that would allow the Verallia deal to go ahead.


RIVALS PITCH RADIO PLANS TO BAI – The Irish Times reports on the pitches made by two rival radio firms to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, which saw opinion divided over the merits of Michael Bublé.

A niche music radio licence for Dublin city and county is up for renewal, so the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland had called in the two remaining contenders for a public presentation of their application.

The team behind Sunshine 106.8FM, the incumbent licence holder, felt Bublé “would sit very well with us”. 

The crooning Canadian would be “a good example”, according to chief executive Seán Ashmore, of the kind of “complementary” music that would fill 10% of its playlist. Songs by Irish artists and the two big categories, “soul/classic soul” and “country crossover” (twangy, Nashville-flavoured pop), would make up the rest.

Gerry Murphy, a director of challenging applicant Country FM, was not convinced. “I’m listening to the notion that you have to break everything up with Michael Bublé, B.B. King, Frank Sinatra and the Temptations,” he said in a tone that did not suggest approval. “Save me from classic soul.”

At the heart of the BAI’s contract awards committee is the following choice. 

It can opt for Sunshine 106.8FM, which insists that a “pure country” station isn’t financially viable, or it can side with Country FM’s position that there is a substantial audience for country music out there that is not being served.


BANKS TO FACE QUESTIONS OVER SME LENDING - Representatives from Bank of Ireland, Ulster Bank and AIB are due before the Jobs Committee to face questions about their lending policies to small firms, reports The Irish Examiner.

Their appearance today is part of the committee's hearings on access to finance for small and medium sized enterprises.

Business groups say many firms across Ireland are finding it difficult to access credit from banks.

Chairman of the committee Deputy Damien English said: "The banks claim they are making credit available but a lot of the businesses we talk to say they can't get access to credit.

"Credit is a tool of business in any modern economic environment. We have to have credit available. It's our job as a committee to make sure it's happening, wither through the banks or through other means of accessing credit."