CAIRN SELLS 48 HOMES AT GLENHERON ON FIRST DAY - Builder Cairn Homes sold 48 houses for more than €25 million on the first day it opened a new development to prospective buyers. 

Dublin and London-listed Cairn opened a newly built estate at Glenheron, Greystones, Co Wicklow on Saturday. Cairn said it sold 48 homes there for a total of €25.15 million on the first day, a reflection of the Republic’s demand for housing, says the Irish Times. Buyers paid €435,000 for three-bedroom semi-detached houses, between €495,000 and €510,00 for four-bedroom homes and from €550,000 to €700,000 for detached dwellings. Twenty five of the homes sold on Saturday were completed while 23 were under construction. Michael Stanley, Cairn’s chief executive, said the customers were a 50-50 mix of first-time buyers and families trading up from other properties. He described the sale as extraordinary. "There has been good demand across all our developments this spring but this is the clearest demonstration I have seen of the strength of the market for well-built homes," he said. Cairn built 50 homes during phase one of Glenheron. The company sold 25 of these "off plans" while it was still building them.

REVENUES SOAR 42% AT AMAZON IRISH FIRM TO €1.1 BILLION - Revenues at the main Irish arm of online giant Amazon soared by 42% to €1.1 billion last year. 

New accounts show pre-tax profits at data centre firm Amazon Data Services Ltd (ADSIL) increased 16% from €26m to €30.2m on the back of the soaring revenues in the 12 months to the end of December last, says the Irish Independent. Recently, Forbes confirmed the founder and CEO of Amazon's global operations Jeff Bezos as the world's richest man with a fortune of $112 billion (€90.7 billion). Globally, Amazon last year recorded revenues of $177.87 billion (€144.05 billion). There was a major expansion of ADSIL here as the numbers employed went up to 1,189. Another Amazon firm, the Cork based Amazon CS Ireland Ltd (ACSI) - which operates a customer service centre at Cork Airport Business Park - also enjoyed expansion with employee numbers rising from 904 to 1,071. Amazon is continuing its growth here in 2018 after ADSIL secured planning permission in January for the first phase of a new €1 billion data services centre at Mulhuddart, Co Dublin. Dubbed 'Project G', the project is Amazon's most ambitious to date in Ireland and ADSIL plans to initially build a 223,000 sq ft data centre in Mulhuddart and has told Fingal County Council it might build seven more data centres on the 26-hectare IDA-owned site.

NEW BANK OF IRELAND CHAIR IN LINE FOR €490,000 - Bank of Ireland's new chairman Patrick Kennedy - currently deputy chair but best known as a former chief executive at bookie Paddy Power - is in line for a pay hike of up to €364,000 if he is to be paid the same as outgoing chairman Archie Kane. 

Mr Kennedy - who has been on the bank's board since the summer of 2010 and deputy chairman for the last three years - has long been the favourite to succeed Mr Kane, who Bank of Ireland said will stand down in July,  reports the Irish Examiner. Mr Kennedy is currently paid €126,000 and will likely match most of the €490,000 that Bank of Ireland pays Mr Kane. The Government owns a stake of over 13% in Bank of Ireland. According to the bank’s annual report, Mr Kane in 2017 was paid €394,000 in "non-pensionable salary"; an additional €59,000 under a consultancy contract with Bank of Ireland in the UK; and "also receives an accommodation, utilities and car allowance of €37,000 per annum". Newly-appointed chief executive Francesca McDonagh, who started work in early October, was paid €246,000 last year. No performance bonuses were paid to any director last year.


CORPORATE AMERICA POISED TO UNVEIL RECORD BUYBACKS - US companies are expected to shower investors with a record amount of share buybacks in the current earnings season, as corporate executives take advantage of major tax cuts and a faltering stock market to increase their repurchase programmes. 

S&P 500 companies have already announced about $167 billion of new buyback authorisations this year, and analysts at JPMorgan predict that trend will accelerate this quarter as boardrooms digest the full scale of the tax cuts passed in December. "We are expecting record buyback announcements during this earnings season given further clarity on tax reform, equity multiples are broadly attractive, and companies likely to replenish buyback programmes after the recent sell-off," noted Dubravko Lakos-Bujas, an analyst at JPMorgan. Overall, US companies will buy back about $800 billion of their stock this year, the bank forecasts, up from $525 billion in 2017, and boost dividend payouts by about 10% to a record $500 billion, says the Financial Times. President Donald Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress have lauded a potential upswing in investment by US companies following the tax cuts, but strategists at Goldman Sachs expect a heftier increase in buybacks and dividends. The buyback and dividend bonanza would be a welcome boost to the US stock market, which has become more volatile this year over concerns that global economic growth is slowing and international trade tension are escalating.