Investec bank is expanding its presence in Ireland and has opened a new office in Cork - its first in Munster. The South African bank already employs 240 people in Dublin.

Investec's head of treasury Aisling Dodgson says that Cork is a natural next step for the bank because it believes that Munster has great potential and great opportunities. She points out that the Munster region delivers one third of the country's GDP while it also makes up a third of the country's population. From its new Cork offices, Ms Dodgson says that Investec will look at offerings for the corporate and SME sectors as well as its private wealth management services. Cork has many multi-nationals based there as well as large indigenous companies like Voxpro and Global Shares and Investec will also focus on the many entrepreneurs in the south of the country.

In the last year, Ms Dodgson says that huge volatility has been seen in the euro-sterling rate. She says that for the last number of years exporters in particular have become very competitive due to the currency rate changes. Investec works with companies to hedge their euro-sterling exposure and Ms Dodgson says the bank has been very pro-active in the market. 

Investec has invested strong in Ireland, the head of its treasury department said. The bank bought NCB Stockbrokers in 2012 and is now looking to double the amount of premises it has here. The bank is committed to the Irish market and is in the country for the long term, Ms Dodgson added.


MORNING BRIEFS - Glanbia is seeking planning permission for a €35m expansion to its Wexford cheese plant. It hopes to double processing capacity at the facility, on the outskirts of Wexford Town. The company says the investment would also secure the future of the plant's 48 employees.

*** Oil prices continued to rally in Asian trade this morning. US crude was up 1.7% after a 7% surge yesterday and Brent crude by 1.3% to just under $35 a barrel,  buoyed by Iran's tentative support for a production freeze. Saudi Arabia, Russia, Qatar and Venezuela came to an agreement on Tuesday to maintain production at January levels. Iran, which is not a member of the OPEC cartel, yesterday said it welcomed and supported the measures though it stopped short of outright endorsement. 

*** Dublin needs high-rise hotels to cope with visitor demand for accommodation, according to the chairman of Fáilte Ireland. In an interview in the business section of today's Irish Independent Michael Cawley said a limited number of high rise hotel buildings in the otherwise low-rise city would be welcome. Fáilte Ireland expects 5,000 hotel rooms to come on stream in Dublin over the next five years but, Mr Cawley said, that is about 5,000 short of expected demand.

*** Air France-KLM has estimated that the November terrorist attacks in Paris and the Malian capital Bamako cost it €120m in lost revenue. The airline nonetheless posted its first annual profit since 2008, making a net profit of €118m compared to a loss of €225m for 2014.

*** Food giant Nestlé booked a profit of 9.1 billion Swiss Francs for the year. That is down 39% on the 2014 figure but mainly due to the one-off impact of the disposal of its stake in l'Oreal which inflated the previous year's profit.