DIGICEL WINS FIRST ROUND IN €25m ROW OVER SPECTRUM CONFISCATION - Digicel, Denis O'Brien's Caribbean mobile operator, has won the first round of a legal battle against the government of one of its island markets, which wants to confiscate some of Digicel's high-speed spectrum to give it one of its rivals. 

Digicel has secured an injunction against the government of the nation of Antigua and Barbuda, where it has operated since 2006, writes the Irish Times. The authorities there want to strip Digicel and another operator, Flow, of spectrum used for so-called "4G lite" mobile services, and hand it over to the state-owned telco, Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA). Digicel claims the move would force it to spend $25 million (€22 million) on rebuilding its network, and it has accused the local government of allowing anti-competitive behaviour to "run amok". As well as competing with Digicel in the mobile market, APUA is also the island's telecoms regulator. Flow is ultimately owned by Liberty Latin America, backed by US cable tycoon John Malone who owns Virgin Media in Ireland. The local government has suggested it will hold negotiations with Digicel and Flow, but warned: "No court can tell us to whom we can license our spectrum." The row blew up over an Antigua government order last month that gave Digicel and Flow three weeks to relinquish some of their 850 megahertz spectrum. It is used to provide so-called LTE mobile data services that are faster than 3G, but not quite as fast as 4G.

***
McNAMARA FIRM REPAYS FINANCING FROM ALTERNATIVE LENDER CASTLEHAVEN - A company owned by boomtime builder Bernard McNamara has repaid finance that it had secured from Dublin-based alternative property lender Castlehaven Finance.

The facility had been secured against land at Donabate in north Dublin where Mr McNamara's Roxtip firm has built about 30 homes, says the Irish Independent Mr McNamara has been re-establishing himself as a developer in Ireland after emerging from bankruptcy in the UK in 2014. He had been declared bankrupt there in 2012 with debts of €1.2 billion. Castlehaven was founded in 2014 by former AIB and Anglo Irish Bank executive Clark McCann. Castlehaven has provided tens of millions of euro in finance to a number of small-scale projects around Dublin, such as Blackberry Hill in Carrickmines, which was developed by Northern Ireland businessmen Sean and Gerald McGreevy. Castlehaven also financed the development of five €1m-plus homes in Sutton, north Dublin, by Wexford-based A-Therm Construction. The residential development in Donabate being undertaken by Mr McNamara marked his first such project in Ireland since the downturn. 

***
PALLAS FOODS PROFITS DOUBLE - Pre-tax profits at the main firm of the country’s largest food service wholesaler Pallas Foods more than doubled to €10.7m last year. 

Accounts filed by Limerick-based Pallas Foods Unlimited Company show it increased pre-tax profits by 111% as revenues increased by 10% to just over €352m in the 12 months to the end of June. Numbers employed by the firm last year increased by 131 to 1,015 as staff costs increased to €44m, writes the Irish Examiner. The unlimited entity last filed accounts to the Companies Office in 2008. The company’s revenues have increased more than threefold since 2007 when revenues of €116m were recorded. Numbers employed have almost tripled since 2007 where 386 were employed at the time. According to the directors' report, the company had another strong performance in 2018. The directors said that in achieving the turnover, "the company has focused on increasing sales with existing customers through offering a wider range of products and improving the quality of service and securing new contracts".

***
JD SPORTS' CHAIRMAN AWARDED £6m CASH BONUS OVER FOUR YEARS - The JD Sports Fashion executive chairman has been awarded a £6m cash bonus not linked to any future performance targets. 

Peter Cowgill's special bonus, to be paid in instalments of £1.5m a year for four years starting from October, each of which will be subject to income tax and national insurance, must be approved at JD's annual shareholder meeting on 3 July. The bonus, which is not linked to future performance measures, is likely to be controversial with pay campaigners and independent shareholders, says today's Guardian. Last year 15% of investors voted against the company's remuneration report, which was criticised by a number of shareholder advisory groups. However, JD Sports’ majority shareholder, Pentland Group, the owner of Speedo and Berghaus which controls 57.5% of JD Sports, is likely to wave the bonus through. The payout to comes after the retail group, which looks set to join the UK's biggest companies in the FTSE 100 next week, raised pre-tax profits by 15.5% to £355.2m in the year to 2 February as sales increase by almost 50% to £4.7 billion largely thanks to expansion in the US and Asia. The deal ensures Cowgill will be paid a minimum of £3.9m this year compared to £2.55m last year. If he hits undisclosed performance targets, he could earn up to £4.7m in total, more than the boss of Tesco, the UK's largest retailer which makes annual profits of £1.67 billion, five times that of JD Sports.