US BILLIONAIRE EYES MOUNT JULIET – Billionaire US businessman John Malone is believed to have expressed an interest in acquiring the high-profile Mount Juliet hotel and country club resort in Co Kilkenny, according to The Irish Times.

The property has been on the market for about three months with an expected sale price of about €15 million.

Mr Malone is reported to be the largest landowner in the US and has been involved in acquiring a number of assets in Ireland in the past couple of years. 

These include Humewood Castle in Co Wicklow, and two hotels in Dublin – the Hilton Hotel in Charlemont Place and the Trinity Capital on Pearse Street.

The hotels were acquired in partnership with Lalco Hotel Group, an Irish hotel operator led by John Lally.

Mr Malone has roots in Cork and is chairman of Liberty Global, a listed company in the US with cable TV and telecoms investments across the world. This includes UPC Ireland.


ORACLE’S IRISH ARM HAD €11M TAX BILL IN 2013 – The Irish Independent reports that US technology giant Oracle's Irish corporation tax bill was €11m last year, at the same time as its turnover here increased to €7.24bn.

Tax is only due in Ireland on the company's Irish profits, which were €164.4m in 2013, according to new accounts filed by Oracle EMEA Ltd to the Companies Office.

The revenues recorded by Oracle's Irish unit represent 27% of the group's entire global revenues of $37.2bn (€26.8bn) in the year to the end of May 31, 2013. 

The figures are sure to reignite the debate over the discrepancy between revenues at some of the biggest companies operating here, and their relatively small tax bills.

Last year, a controversial US Senate report said companies such as Apple paid little or no tax on tens of billions of euro in profits stashed in Irish subsidiaries.

Apple is the largest foreign employer in Ireland, with 4,000 workers, but it only pays taxes equal to around 2% of profits.


BELOW-COST SELLING ‘SHOULD BE HIGHLIGHTED’ - Consumers should know if the food they are buying is being sold below the production cost, The Irish Examiner quotes environmental body An Taisce as saying.

An Taisce has submitted a proposal to the Government that would require the country’s five biggest retailers to display the amount they pay to farmers for certain foods — the “primary produce amount” — alongside the sales price in an attempt to battle below-cost selling.

An Taisce’s policy director, James Nix, said the practice of below-cost selling is putting Ireland’s whole food sector at risk.

“The Government has the opportunity to aid informed choice. And ensuring the primary produce amount is displayed alongside the sales price is a clear and tangible step that ministers can take regarding the below-cost selling which is endangering Ireland’s horticulture sector,” he said.

Previously, the practice of below-cost selling was welcomed as it was seen to benefit hard-pressed consumers. The National Consumer Agency welcomed below-cost selling, suggesting it was “good for the consumer”.

However, An Taisce says these comments indicated a lack of awareness of the risks of concentrating market share around fewer and fewer grocery retailers.


APPLE PREPARING FOR MAJOR BOND SALE – The Financial Times reports that Apple is preparing the groundwork for another blockbuster debt sale in the region of $17bn that could rank as the second-largest corporate bond sale of all time.

The world’s most valuable company said last week that it planned to increase its share buyback from $60bn to $90bn, funded by domestic and international bond sales.

Apple plans to use proceeds from the debt sale to fund the buyback rather than tap its $150bn cash pile. About $130bn of that cash is held overseas, 88% of the total, and returning it to the US would lead to a tax charge of up to 35%.

A foreign debt sale would probably target the euro zone, where interest rates are lower than in the US, and diversify Apple’s debt investor base.

During Apple’s quarterly results call last week, Luca Maestri, Apple’s incoming finance chief, warned that repatriating offshore cash would incur “significant” tax consequences.

Mr Maestri, who joined Apple after stints at General Motors, Nokia Siemens Networks and Xerox, said the breakdown of markets and currencies for its debt sale would be decided later in the year.