HEAVEY GETS $1 BILLION FOR NEW ENERGY VENTURE - Former Tullow Oil senior executives Aidan Heavey and Tom Hickey have secured $1 billion (€920m) in backing from US investment giant Carlyle for a new oil and gas venture in west Africa called Boru Energy.

The company will target "primarily non-operated interests" in energy assets in the region, taking advantage of a major divestment drive by big energy companies looking to shift away from fossil fuels, writes the Irish Times. Mr Heavey, who stepped down as chairman of Tullow - the exploration company he founded 33 years ago - in 2018, said Boru Energy aimed to assemble a portfolio of assets with "significant  commercialisation potential". "We will seek to invest to secure and increase production levels, extend field life cycles and support partners and governments to achieve long-term, sustainable growth and create value," he said. He will be partnered in his new venture by former Tullow colleague Tom Hickey, who was chief financial officer of the company between 2000 and 2008. Under their stewardship, Tullow grew into a FTSE 100 company with production of more than 80,000 barrels of oil per day. It is still regarded as Ireland's most successful exploration company. 

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CORRIB GAS FIRM PAYS €414m DIVIDEND TO CANADIAN OWNER - The Canadian-owned entity that acquired Shell Ireland's 45% interest in Corrib Gas has already received €414m in dividends from the operation of the gas field. 

That is according to the first set of accounts filed by Nephin Energy Holdings Ltd (NEHL), says the Irish Independent. The Irish-based firm is owned by the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), which came to an agreement in 2017 to purchase Shell Ireland's interest in Corrib Gas for €903m. The new accounts show that NEHL last year paid a dividend of €382m to the CPPIB. That was followed by a further €32.4m dividend payout in April and May of this year. NEHL completed the purchase of Shell Ireland's interest on December 12 last year and sold on 1.5% of its interest in the field to the new operator, Canadian firm Vermilion, for €25.6m. NEHL recorded revenues of €25.2m last year, representing just under three weeks of production to the end of last December. The firm recorded pre-tax profits of €46.26m after booking a gain of €39m on its purchase of Shell's interest. This was due to an upswing in gas prices in the fourth quarter of last year relative to when the purchase price was originally agreed with Shell back in 2017.

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LARGE-SCALE 'DIGITAL HUB' INVESTMENT COULD 'TRANSFORM' REGIONAL ECONOMY, REPORT SAYS - The establishment of a so-called 'digital hub' in every county could significantly benefit the country by helping to create more than 1,000 companies, nearly 9,000 jobs and generating more than €300m for the regional economy, according to a report.

Digital hubs - typically shared workplaces for high-tech startups - are already significantly contributing to local economies, according to Vodafone Ireland, which commissioned the study. Six such facilities, it said - including the Ludgate Hub in Skibbereen and HQ Tralee - are close to full capacity, employing a combined 462 people and hosting nearly 180 companies, and all want to expand to satisfy demand. Between them the six 'hubs' are contributing more than €27m to the economy, reports the Irish Examiner. Cork's Ludgate hub, alone, has generated more than €4.2m for the local economy since its inception. "The creation of viable smart working opportunities - in a hub, home-working, or a hybrid model - in Ireland's regions could prove transformative for people, businesses and local communities," according to Vodafone Ireland's director of enterprise Regina Moran. The report's author, economist Jim Power, called the idea of investment in smart working spaces "an unambiguous win-win situation".

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GREGGS TO STOCKPILE BACON AND TUNA TO AVERT BREXIT SHORTAGES - Greggs is preparing to stockpile bacon and tuna and has switched to buying all its cheese in the UK as the bakery chain tries to avert shortages in the event of a chaotic Brexit. 

Roger Whiteside, the chief executive of Britain's largest bakery chain, said the company had leased extra warehouse space and this month would begin building additional stocks of ingredients vulnerable to hold-ups at the UK's ports, writes today's Guardian. Greggs, which opened its 2,000th shop last month, revealed its Brexit plans as it said sales at established stores were up 7.4% in the three months to 28 September, a slowdown from the 10.5% rise in the previous six months. Shares fell 12.6% to £18.26 in the light of the slowdown and Greggs’ announcement that it now expected to open 90 stores for the year, 10 fewer than previously promised. Whiteside said the change was because a number of franchise outlet openings had been delayed until after the next financial year. Whiteside said sales growth was likely to slow against strong trading in the previous financial year, when Greggs benefited from new breakfast ranges and the introduction of its vegan sausage roll in January 2019. But the company is aiming to boost sales by offering evening takeaways. About 60 shops are now open from 6pm to 9pm and that will extend to 250 by the end of the year.