PHARMA FIRM IN TALKS WITH IDA ABOUT INVESTMENT - West Pharmaceutical Services, a $3 billion New York Stock Exchange-listed pharmaceutical firm, is in talks with the IDA about making an investment of hundreds of millions in the southeast creating hundreds of new jobs, according to The Irish Times.

The talks are understood to be at an advanced stage and initially West Pharma is understood to be looking at investing a figure in the region of €100 million in the southeast.

However, the scale of the 45 acre site would give West Pharma the ability to rapidly ramp up its investment by up to tenfold over a period of years as the rapidly growing multinational’s needs expand.

According to industry sources, talks have been going on for some months about investment in the project on a green-field site on Knockhouse, Old Kilmeaden Road, Waterford.

The investment would be a major win for the southeast, which has been working hard to become an alternative to Cork as a hub for pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical investment in Ireland.


BALLYMORE RETURNS TO PROFIT, READY TO LEAVE NAMA – The Irish Independent repots that Sean Mulryan's Ballymore Group is back in profit for the first time since the crash. 

The Irish construction group is now on course to exit NAMA by the end of the financial year with its loans paid off in full.

The group has repaid €1bn to NAMA and other lenders since the downturn and is back building in Ireland after focusing on London during the crash at home.

The group generated a profit after interest and tax in the year to the end of March of €43.2m - its first profit since 2008, according to the latest set of accounts.

That was primarily driven by a 73% increase in turnover.

"Ballymore has come through a very difficult period in our 35 year history. It is a cyclical business. However, the last downturn was no ordinary trading cycle. Ballymore restructured immediately and implemented a business plan in conjunction with NAMA and our other financial institutions such as Ulster Bank," Paul Keogh, Ballymore's chief operating officer, told the Irish Independent.

He said the business is on course to have fully paid off its debts, including to taxpayers through NAMA, by the end of the current financial year.


SICON ANTICIPATING RISE IN ACTIVITY - Irish construction group, Sicon is anticipating this year will see its activity levels increase by 10%, with the recovery in the UK building market driving that growth, according to The Irish Examiner.

The business — which acts as the holding company for the Sisk group’s construction assets — yesterday published its latest annual accounts, showing a second consecutive year of profitability in 2013.

In 2011, the company had posted a near €154m pre-tax loss on the back of the high-profile failure of its Polish road building projects.

No further losses will arise from the Polish operations and it is still pursuing monies it believes it is owed through legal processes. If successful, these payments will be recognised in future years’ accounts.

Yesterday’s accounts showed that Sicon saw a 216% jump in operating profits — to €7.9m — in 2013; with net debt falling from €20.8m to just over €15m.

However, turnover from continuing operations fell from €852m to €774.4m and pre-tax profits fell by nearly 90% from €14m to €1.5m. The pre-tax fall was largely due to a number of exceptional items incurred during the year, including a one-off non-cash write-down of €9m on the sale of its Stone Developments subsidiary.