LOSSES INCREASE AT ACC BANK – The Irish Times reports that pre-tax losses at ACC Bank increased to €310 million last year, up from €213 million in 2012.

The increase in losses reflected additional impairments on assets especially in respect of property related exposures.

In its final annual results as a licensed bank, the bank said total loans and advances to customers at year end amounted to €2.6 billion, in comparison to the €2.8 billion at the end of 2012.

In October, ACC announced plans to withdraw from providing standard banking products, such as current accounts, to focus solely on debt recovery.

ACC will close its business centres to the public at the end of May and plans to give up its banking licence in June 2014, but will continue to be a regulated entity.


SCHEME AGREED TO SAVE ELVERYS – The Irish Examiner reports that a survival scheme for Elverys Sports operating company employing 700 people full and part-time in 52 stores across the country has been approved by the High Court.

The scheme, supported by Nama, will see Staunton Sports exit examinership at 1pm on Friday, Mr Justice Brian McGovern directed.

NAMA is the company’s largest secured creditor, owed some €23m, after acquiring its AIB loans in 2010 and 2011 and will get value for its security, the judge heard.

Unsecured creditors will get 5% of what they are owed and all but two unsecured creditors had supported the scheme, Declan Murphy, counsel for the examiner, Simon Coyle of Mazars, said.

Had the company been liquidated, unsecured creditors would get nothing, he added.

Preferential creditors — understood to mean the Revenue — will get 100% per cent of what they are owed, the court also heard.

Mr Murphy said there was an investment agreement, the conditions for which had now all been fulfilled following the court’s decision approving the scheme.

On exiting court protection, the company will be, and will remain, properly capitalised and a viable business is projected “going forward”, he added.


BURBERRY PROFITS RISE UNDER NEW BOSS – The Irish Independent reports that luxury brand Burberry has met forecasts with an 8% rise in annual profit, though it reiterated that if foreign exchange rates remain at current levels there will be a material impact on 2014-15 profit.

The results are the first since Chief Creative and Chief Executive Officer Christopher Bailey officially succeeded Apple bound Angela Ahrendts on May 1, though his appointment was announced in October.

The 158-year-old firm, known for its camel, red and black check pattern, said it made adjusted pre-tax profit of £461 million in the year to March 31 - bang in line with analysts' consensus forecast, on revenue up 17% to £2.33 billion.

Burberry, which ended the year with net cash of £403 million, raised its full year dividend 10% to 32 pence and said it was confident of driving sustainable future growth.

But the firm again flagged the potential impact of foreign exchange movements on the translation of profit into sterling.


PFIZER FIGHTS TO KEEP ASTRA BID ALIVE – The Financial Times reports that Pfizer is scrambling to keep alive its £69.4bn offer for AstraZeneca as the two sides vie for shareholder support in the battle to control the UK drugmaker.

AstraZeneca sought to bring a definitive end to Pfizer’s pursuit by issuing a statement saying there was no chance of renewed talks leading to an increased bid after it rejected the US company’s £55-per-share “final” offer on Monday.

But Pfizer continued to press its target to return to the table, saying: “The fate of the deal is now up to AstraZeneca’s shareholders. We believe our final proposal represents compelling and full value for AstraZeneca shareholders.”

Since AstraZeneca’s rejection the two companies have sought to blame each other for the way the bid process has been handled, and feuded over the correct interpretation of UK takeover rules.

Big investors staked out opposing positions in the dispute as the two companies lobbied for backing with just four days remaining before a May 26 deadline for Pfizer to lodge a firm bid or walk away.

Schroders, which owns 2.1% of AstraZeneca, said it was disappointed with the “quick rejection” of an offer that represented a 45% premium over the share price before news of Pfizer’s interest was first reported last month.