REJECTING €8.9 BILLION BID 'WAS RIGHT FOR SMURFIT INVESTORS' - The chief financial officer of packaging giant Smurfit Kappa, Ken Bowles, doesn't think shareholders have "any lingering concerns" about the failed €8.9 billion attempt by US firm International Paper to buy the Irish group in 2018.
Despite a surge in its share price earlier last week after it reported record profits for 2019, Smurfit Kappa's market capitalisation, at €7.8 billion, is well below the €9.4 billion at which International Paper's cash and share proposal valued the group. Its second approach valued Smurfit Kappa at €39.71 per share. The company's shares were changing hands at around €34 last Friday, writes the Irish Independent. The unsolicited approach by the Memphis-based firm was rejected and criticised by Smurfit Kappa's board in a melee that became increasingly acrimonious. The US company ceased efforts to buy Smurfit Kappa in mid-2018, citing a lack of engagement by the Irish group's management. In February 2018, around the time International Paper made its first approach to Smurfit Kappa, the Irish company launched a medium-term plan to invest €1.6bn in the business over a four-year period. Releasing its results last week, Smurfit Kappa CEO Tony Smurfit said that the group had achieved a return on capital employed of 17pc in 2019, "which is in line with our medium-term target". He insisted the FTSE-100 business has been "transformed" and is "delivering on our vision".
IBRC COMMISSION EXPECTED TO SEEK EXTENSION - The State commission investigating loan write-offs at the former Anglo Irish Bank is expected to require another extension beyond the end of next month.
The draft report on the first module of the investigation into Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, the State entity running down Anglo, is not likely to be produced and circulated to affected parties until May or June at the earliest - several months behind schedule. The commission, chaired by High Court judge Brian Cregan, was set up in June 2015 to examine transactions that led to a loss of €10 million or more to the State-owned bank, says the Irish Times. Mr Justice Cregan has been hearing from the final witnesses in the first module which is focused on the sale of the building services company Siteserv, now called Actavo, to Isle of Man company Millington, which is controlled by businessman Denis O'Brien, for €45 million in 2012. The company had about €110 million of loans written off to IBRC in the deal. The bank and then minister for finance Michael Noonan said at the time it was the best option for the State. The commission was originally due to issue its final report at the end of 2015 at an estimated cost of €4 million but the judge sought repeated extensions, the latest to March 31st, with costs spiralling to between €11 million and €14 million. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has estimated that the final cost could be €30 million.
CAMILE THAI TO BEGIN DRONE DELIVERIES NEXT MONTH - Irish restaurant chain Camile Thai is to begin trialling food delivered by drone in Dublin next month.
The chain has partnered with Manna Aero, a Dublin company pioneering the use of drones for delivering takeaways within a two-kilometre radius of their base. Manna have been working with the Irish Aviation Authority for three years and they expect to receive permission to fly this month, which would allow them to proceed with live trials in March, says the Irish Examiner. Brody Sweeney, the CEO and founder of Camile Thai, outlined the company's plans at the recent UCC Commerce Society's annual conference. "We are the exclusive restaurant launch partners and we are starting live trials in Dublin in March," Mr Sweeney said, adding that drone delivery would be offered from two sites in Ireland by the end of the year. He said the system would allow users of the Camile Thai app to select drone delivery for their order and they would then be shown a satellite image of their home, overlaid with a grid allowing them to select the landing area, such as their driveway or back patio. Mr Sweeney said drone deliveries would be faster than road vehicles and would be better for the environment.
UK INVESTORS BACK STAFF SHARE SCHEMES - Britain's biggest institutional investors are warming to the idea that companies should be set targets to increase employee share ownership, financing a study arguing the case for quotas and "name and shame" style league tables.
The Social Market Foundation think tank urged the government to set a target for large listed companies. This could either be a percentage of share capital owned by staff or a percentage of the workforce owning shares, writes The Times. A target of 10% of the company owned by staff "might capture the public imagination", it said. The government should publish league tables that track companies' progress in meeting the target in order to encourage them, in the same way that targets have helped to nudge companies into appointing more women.