GREENCORE INVESTORS URGED TO REJECT COVENEY PENSION - Greencore shareholders have been urged by a leading corporate governance advisory firm to vote against the sandwich and prepared meals giant's pension contribution to its chief executive Patrick Coveney - equating to 35% of his salary. 

Proxy advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) said the €315,000 pension award, payable in cash in lieu of participating in a group scheme, and chief financial officer Eoin Tonge's 25%-of-salary pension were "exceptionally high relative to typical market practice", says the Irish Times. "While the pension provisions for the incumbent [executive directors] have been frozen in monetary terms, they remain significantly higher than is typical in the UK market, and are out of step with the market's direction of travel following the publication of the 2018 UK corporate governance code," said ISS in a report ahead of Greencore's annual general meeting on January 28th. "The overall positioning of fixed pay at Greencore remains an ongoing area of concern, and the company has not committed to bringing down the level of pension contributions...over the near-term." Mr Coveney's total remuneration for the year to September was €2.35 million, while Mr Tonge's package, denominated in sterling, equated to €1.21 million. ISS noted, however, that Greencore has put new executive directors on pension rates aligned to the group's workforce.

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INVESTOR HEAVEN - HALO RECRUITS 100 'ANGELS', SEES HUNDREDS MORE - The State-supported body for promoting so-called 'angel' investment says it recruited more than 100 new investors last year and is seeking another hundred this year with the potential to invest €20m locally. 

The Halo Business Angel Network (HBAN) since 2007 has been building regional syndicates of investors interested in gaining stakes in startups and early-stage firms. The all-Ireland initiative - backed by development agencies on both sides of the Border - has spurred more than €100m in investment to firms across the island, with half of that investment coming since 2015, says the Irish Independent. The group has said its 2019 recruitment of investors - dubbed angels because they typically give cash-starved startups with bright ideas the chance to grow - exceeded 100 for the first time in a single year. This took the total number of active investors on HBAN's books above 700, including syndicates in the US, the UK and Singapore. "The success of last year shows that interest in angel investment is accelerating at a terrific rate," said John Phelan, the all-island director of HBAN. "One of the drivers behind this is that we are seeing a lot of younger people who are coming up through the ranks of the larger tech companies, and who want to invest in startups themselves," he added.

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CORK AIRPORT CONTRIBUTED €904m TO THE IRISH ECONOMY AFTER RECORDING FOURTH YEAR OF PASSENGER GROWTH - Cork Airport generated €904 million for the Irish economy last year, according to an economic impact study released today. 

The report, conducted by global management consulting firm InterVISTAS Consulting, revealed Cork Airport contributed to the employment of 12,180 people in the country, earning a total of €457 million. The findings of the study come as Cork Airport recorded a fourth consecutive year of growth in 2019, with passengers growing by 8% to 2.6 million. It is now entering its fifth consecutive year of growth, with 2.7 million people forecasted to travel through the airport in 2020, up a further 5% on last year, says the Irish Examiner. Cork Airport's Managing Director, Niall MacCarthy said: "The last economic impact study of Cork Airport was conducted in 2015 and it is fantastic to see the airport's positive contribution to the Irish economy is continuing to grow significantly." "Not only does Cork Airport support 12,180 jobs locally, it also contributed €904 million to the Irish economy in 2019. This figure alone highlights just how crucial Cork Airport is to the economy here across the south of Ireland," he said. InterVISTAS Consulting's economic impact study also found Cork Airport's connectivity score - an indicator of an airport's access to the global air transport network - is the second-highest in the country. 

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SOARING COSTS AND DELAYS EXPOSE LACK OF SCRUTINY - The scale of the failure of UK government procurement has been laid bare by the spiralling cost and delayed construction of two private finance initiative hospitals being built by the collapsed construction group Carillion. 

The costs of the Royal Liverpool Hospital and the Midland Metropolitan Hospital have risen by £619 million to £2.1 billion in total and the hospitals are expected to open between three and five years late at a cost that has been mostly borne by shareholders, investors, insurers and Carillion, says The Times. The latest estimates for the hospitals are revealed today in a report by the National Audit Office, the UK spending watchdog, which opened an investigation into the government's handling of the hospital contracts last year. The investigation considered both the government's contingency planning before Carillion's collapse and its response to the failure. Construction work on the two hospitals was halted in January 2018 when Carillion buckled under the weight of more than £1 billion of debt. The projects were being funded by private finance initiatives, where private investors finance public sector capital projects in exchange for a return from the taxpayer once the project is delivered.