| Click for the Finfacts Ireland Portal Homepage |

Finfacts Business News Centre

Home 
 
 News
 Irish
 Irish Economy
 EU Economy
 US Economy
 UK Economy
 Global Economy
 International
 Property
 Innovation
 
 Analysis/Comment
 
 Asia Economy

RSS FEED


How to use our RSS feed

Follow Finfacts on Twitter

 
Web Finfacts

See Search Box lower down this column for searches of Finfacts news pages. Where there may be the odd special character missing from an older page, it's a problem that developed when Interactive Tools upgraded to a new content management system.

Welcome

Finfacts is Ireland's leading business information site and you are in its business news section.

Links

Finfacts Homepage

Irish Share Prices

Euribor Daily Rates

Irish Economy

Global Income Per Capita

Global Cost of Living

Irish Tax - Income/Corporate

Global News

Bloomberg News

CNN Money

Cnet Tech News

Newspapers

Irish Independent

Irish Times

Irish Examiner

New York Times

Financial Times

Technology News

 

Feedback

 

Content Management by interactivetools.com.

News : Irish Last Updated: Mar 7, 2013 - 9:10 AM


Thursday Newspaper Review - - Irish Business News - - March 07, 2013
By Finfacts Team
Mar 7, 2013 - 9:04 AM

Email this article
 Printer friendly page

The Irish Independent reports that homeowners have been warned it will be up to them to notify Revenue that they are liable for the new property tax if they do not receive notification about it.

And more than nine out of 10 people are expected to pay the controversial tax, according to experts. Letters and emails to more than 1.6 million homeowners are due to be sent from Monday, with details of the due payment.

But any homeowner who does not get a letter will be liable to contact Revenue themselves, according to the Irish Tax Institute.

"Even if you hear nothing from Revenue and do not get a letter, you will need to act yourself," said the institute's Una Maguire.

Everyone who owns a home will be required to file a property-tax return to Revenue. There is a fine of up to ¿3,000 for failing to do so.

Ms Maguire said the way the legislation was framed put the onus on the taxpayer to correctly assess the tax due.

Those who do get a letter but are not due to pay the tax -- because they do not own a home -- have just 30 days to tell Revenue that they are not liable.

It has also emerged that granny flats, home offices and vacant homes may be liable for the tax. Sheds attached to a property will come into the reckoning for the tax, except farm and commercial buildings, the institute said.

People in trouble with their mortgage repayments will be able to offset some of the interest they are paying on the home loan and avoid the tax. But this will only apply to those on lower incomes.

LETTERS

The letters, due to go out from Monday, will include a two-page form to be filled out by the property owner. There will also be an estimate of the value of the property, guidelines to allow homeowners to check the value themselves and an identification number for the property.

The identification will remain the same even if the property is sold. Homeowners will also get a personal identification number.

The letter and the return form will ask people to put a value on the home, detail the tax due and select from one of six payment methods.

There are 20 valuation bands. Homeowners select the mid- point of the band their property fits into and multiply that by 0.18pc to get the tax amount.

Anyone filling out the forms manually will have to return them by May 7, but those who choose to make a return online and pay electronically have until May 28 to get their return back to Revenue, the Irish Tax Institute said.

If people do not pay the tax, Revenue will use the estimate they have given the property as the amount it expects to collect. The tax experts said they expected most people to pay the tax as Revenue has a range of powers to ensure a high level of compliance.

The Irish Independent also reports that there are fears of further job losses following the sale of the 'Irish Examiner' and other newspapers in the Thomas Crosbie Holdings (TCH) group.

The 'Examiner' and the 'Evening Echo' plus several regional papers and radio stations in the group were bought by a new company, Landmark Media Investments Ltd, controlled by newspaper executive Tom Crosbie and backed by his father, Ted, a former director of TCH.

They bought the assets from AIB-appointed receiver Kieran Wallace of KPMG. That deal had been lined up in advance in a technique known as a pre-pack restructuring sale.

Twelve printing staff in Cork and Dublin have already lost their jobs as a result of the deal.

Liquidation

Last night the 'Irish Examiner' was printed by the company that owns the 'Irish Times' in what is to be an ongoing contract.

A further 76 jobs at the 'Sunday Business Post' are under threat. It will apply for examinership at the High Court today.

If an interim examiner is appointed, he will have 100 days to find a buyer. If the court rejects the application for an examinership, the company will go into liquidation.

The Irish Independent has learned that further job losses are expected at some of the newspapers and radio stations bought by Landmark Media.

These will include cuts among some of the 550 staff whose jobs transferred to the new owners after the appointment of the receiver. The new owners will discuss potential job losses with staff, and are planning that further cuts will be done on a voluntary basis, according to a source close to the deal.

One worker, who wished to remain anonymous, said staff at the 'Irish Examiner' had "been expecting something like this" and were happy their jobs had been saved.

"It's positive. We see this as a fresh start. It's the exact same terms and conditions as before. It's business as normal," the worker said.

"We hope that our colleagues in the 'Sunday Business Post' will come through the process."

Cork County Mayor Barbara Murray said the news that the 'Irish Examiner' had gone into receivership was "a sign of the times".

"The 'Examiner' has been around forever. It's an institution here and I've no doubt that they will find a way of surviving," said the Fine Gael councillor.

"I don't think it's going to disappear any time soon."

Fianna Fail councillor Terry Shannon said it was welcome news that most of the jobs were to be saved.

AIB said it had appointed the receiver at the request of the company itself. The bank is at the front of the queue to be repaid by the receiver from the cash he gets from the sale.

At the same time, AIB said it is providing financing for the new company with fresh "refinancing" loans.

The Irish Times reports that Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore marked two years in office yesterday and listed job creation and dealing with the mortgage crisis as their primary objectives in the period ahead.

Launching a report on their first two years in Government yesterday, they said two-thirds of the Programme for Government had been progressed since they took office in 2011.

Mr Kenny said the Government was not looking for “claps on the back or credit”, and he praised the “pragmatism, patience, sacrifice and spirit” of the Irish people. He said the “haemorrhaging” of jobs had stopped and Ireland’s 12.5 per cent corporate tax rate had been protected.

The Taoiseach added that the Coalition’s main goal in the next year was to successfully exit the IMF-EU bailout programme while continuing to reduce borrowing and debt to sustainable levels.

Lagarde reaction 

The head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, has welcomed the progress made by Ireland.

In an interview publised in today’s The Irish Times, she said: “We want Ireland to be a success,” and added she wanted to see how the IMF and the Irish authorities could best plan for a successful conclusion to the programme while making sure there would not be a relapse.

“That is what I am most concerned about,” Ms Lagarde said.

“Clearly the world economy avoided collapse last year and I am very concerned that, by moving into a semi-complacent mood, people risk a relapse.”

Asked about the risk of a relapse in Ireland, she said: “Our sense is that it is better to plan than to get caught afterwards with a need for support down the road.”

At his press conference, Mr Kenny said the doors of the new personal insolvency agency would be open for business by early summer. He hoped a legislative strategy to deal with a “lacuna” in the law could be issued next week, but said it would not lead to large-scale repossessions.

“The challenge for Government is to generate confidence in the indigenous economy that has been flat for quite a long time,” the Taoiseach said.

Mr Gilmore said the country had moved from chaos to stability in two years, with Ireland moving from being a “problem case” in Europe to being “its most likely success story”.

Social reform 

He said social reforms would be the hallmark of a modern post-crisis Ireland. The Government would legislate for the X case, hold a referendum on abolishing the Seanad and put Ireland “on the path to universal health insurance” this year.

Mr Gilmore said relations between Fine Gael and Labour were not strained. In normal circumstances, the largest and second-largest parties would be “looking across the chamber at each other”, but the Coalition partners had come together at a time of crisis.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said the Government had failed to put pressure on the banks to deal with the mortgage crisis.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams accused Fine Gael and Labour of “presiding over two years of austerity” and causing “significant hardship” for citizens.

The Irish Times also reports that the likely length of the trial of former Anglo Irish Bank chairman Seán FitzPatrick and two other executives raises issues around how the jury is selected and retained for such a long period.

At a sitting of Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, Judge Mary Ellen Ring said the courts must take steps to present a larger than usual pool of potential jurors in light of the time they will be asked to sit on the jury for the trial of Mr Fitzpatrick (64), former finance director Willie McAteer (61) and former managing director of lending Pat Whelan (50).

Judge Ring asked if a better estimate than previously offered to the court was available for the length of time the trial may take. None was available. The court has previously heard estimates for the trial of between three and six months.

“Precarious position” 

“The court is conscious that if two people in a long trial become unavailable for whatever reason, the jury is in a precarious position,” Judge Ring said.

“If the jury collapses due to the unavailability of jurors, an immediate retrial will be a problem.”

It is alleged that before Anglo was nationalised in 2009, the three accused men permitted the bank to give unlawful financial assistance, prohibited under company law, to 16 individuals – six members of the family of businessman Seán Quinn and 10 customers of the bank, known as the “Maple 10” – to buy Anglo shares.

Their trial is due to start next January.

Mr FitzPatrick also faces charges of failing to disclose an arrangement between Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide Building Society under which the building society loaned him money between 2002 and 2007, and allegedly deceiving the failed bank’s auditors in relation to his personal loans over the same period.

Brief hearing 

The three men were at the brief court hearing this morning. They have been excused from other similar “mention” hearings – where formalities around an approaching trial are addressed.

However, they must appear before the court again on November 1st for a pre-trial hearing, when they are expected to enter a plea.

Mr FitzPatrick, Mr McAteer and Mr Whelan were three among a larger group of suspects who were all in the body of the courtroom yesterday to face criminal charges for a range of alleged crimes.

The Irish Examiner:

The outlook for the Irish Examiner and its parent media group is positive, writes Business Editor, Conor Keane


YESTERDAY was a dramatic day in the Irish newspaper industry, as the Irish Examiner’s parent company, Thomas Crosbie Holdings (TCH) went into receivership.

The historic development was part of a sweeping restructuring of the TCH media group.

Within hours of receiver Kieran Wallace of KPMG being appointed to TCH, the bulk of its assets, including newspaper titles, were sold to Landmark Media Investments Ltd (LMI), which is 100% owned by Tom Crosbie and his father Ted, for an undisclosed sum.

LMI will now publish all the newspapers that were in the TCH stable, with the exception of the Sunday Business Post.

The Post will make a High Court application later today to have an examiner appointed.

While LMI will keep the Irish Examiner and Evening Echo in the ownership of the Crosbie family — which has owned the newspapers for over 140 years — the titles will now be owned by a smaller family grouping. Former TCH chief executive and chairman Alan Crosbie, and ex-board member Billy Crosbie have chosen not to become investors in LMI.

Like most media organisations, TCH suffered as a result of the economic downturn since 2008, when advertising nose-dived in the recession. Similarly, the Irish Examiner and the Evening Echo occupy high-rent offices in Cork’s Lapp’s Quay, since the sale of their Academy St offices in 2006.

The once highly acquisitive media group had not made a profit since 2007 and was unable to reduce bank debts of more that €27m owed to AIB and Ulster Bank.

AIB had its loans secured against the bulk of the group’s other newspaper titles, all of which also went into receivership yesterday, with the exception of the Western People; the Nationalist and Leinster Times; the Kildare Nationalist; the Laois Nationalist; and the Roscommon Herald; which have also been bought by LMI.

It is expected Ulster Bank, who are owed €7m, will exercise its right to take control of the Thomas Crosbie Printers (TCP)-owned print premises in the Cork suburb of Mahon, over which it holds security. The building is leased to Webprint Concepts, which until yesterday printed all TCH titles, including the Irish Examiner, Evening Echo, the Sunday Business Post and other regional titles.

Yesterday’s move ends months of speculation about the future of the titles in the group which also includes the Waterford News and Star; the Enniscorthy Echo; New Ross Echo, Gorey Echo; and Wexford Echo.

Subject to approval from the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI), Landmark Media Investments Ltd intends to purchase TCH’s shareholding in Waterford radio stations WLR FM, and Beat 102-103 FM, Cork’s Red FM, and Midwest Radio in Mayo.

TCP, which is insolvent, is to be liquidated. With the receivership of TCH there will be significant debts due to trade and other unsecured creditors which will not be paid in full.

The closure of TCP and TCH will result in the immediate loss of up to 12 jobs.

Printing of the titles is now being carried out by the Irish Times at its Citywest printing facility outside Dublin. Webprint Concepts in Cork has printed the titles since 2006. Webprint will be among the largest unsecured TCP creditors — owed close to €1m.

Staff at the newspaper businesses protected under Transfer of Undertakings regulations which were sold to Landmark Media Investments Ltd will retain their existing salaries.

However, the company is expected to seek further concessions from staff — in a bid to bring costs into line relative to revenues — in negotiations next month.

The new company’s main banker, AIB, has agreed to provide funding for the business, including restructuring and specifically identified investments in the business.

This will include new editorial content management and production systems for the group’s titles to replace and upgrade its existing systems. It will enable the introduction of state-of-the-art facilities for digital age multi-platform publishing, and the implementation of the Irish Examiner’s digital strategy.

The commitment of banking support and investment will be welcome news for staff following months of unsettling speculation about the future of the Irish Examiner and its sister titles.

It intensified at the beginning of last month when, out of the blue, former Green Party leader and one time environment minister John Gormley (@JohnGormley) tweeted: “Looks like the Examiner will be going into examinership. I hope it survives. It’s a fine newspaper.”

The company refused at the time to comment publicly on Mr Gormley’s tweet, which was later deleted from his Twitter timeline.

However, a major shake-up of the TCH and its media assets has been on the cards for some time. The company has to date sought and received wage cuts of up to 15%, a pension contribution “holiday”, the elimination of a profit share agreement worth up to €3,000 per person per year, and cuts to expenses, as it endeavoured to regain profitability.

Similar to many companies with defined benefit pensions, its DB scheme is in deficit, to the tune of approximately €12m

Last March, staff rejected management’s request for a further 5% pay cut and since then have been waiting to see what the next move would be. The answer finally came yesterday.

TCH ending up in receivership is a long way from the heady day Celtic Tiger years when, under the leadership of managing director Anthony Dinan and chairman Alan Crosbie, the company was Ireland’s fast growing media organisation acquiring a newspaper almost every year in a buying spree of media assets including radio stations.

In 2005, TCH was worth an estimated €350m-€400m when Irish and UK media assets were selling for spectacular sums.

This was the pinnacle of the Celtic Tiger years and newspaper acquisitions directly mirrored what was happening throughout the Irish economy, particularly in the building industry, with seemingly never-ending boom-time spending fuelled by cheap credit.

In one 2005 deal, the UK’s second largest local newspaper publisher, Johnston Press, paid €138m for the Leinster Leader Group, which included the Limerick Leader. Three years previously, TCH pulled off what was considered a coup by acquiring the Sunday Business Post from Trinity Mirror for €10m, beating off competition from Rupert Murdoch’s News International.

In 2004, TCH paid €10.3m for the Roscommon Herald and two years later bought the Wexford Echo group of newspapers from the Buttle family for €15m.

The following year, with increasing UK publisher interest in Irish newspapers, Mr Dinan was asked if TCH was for sale. He said it was not and stressed the group’s commitment to expansion: “Rather than be acquired, we are acquisitive. The healthy results across the group’s portfolio of businesses means that TCH is well placed to continue the acquisitive path.”

In less than a decade, the company had moved from having three titles, the Irish Examiner, the Evening Echo and the Waterford News and Star, to owning 18 newspapers, including titles in Northern Ireland and The Irish Post in London. The group entered 2006 debt free, in large part due to sale of its Irish Examiner premises in Academy St.

But there were question marks in the industry about TCH’s acquisition strategy, particularly as the group did not acquire leading market titles.

The group’s acquisition drive resulted in its owners, the three strands of the Crosbie family, sharing ownership of some of their titles for the first time.

TCH managing director Anthony Dinan was given a shareholding in new acquisitions.

This continued up to 2004 when the Crosbies bought out Mr Dinan’s interests in numerous newspapers, giving the company 100% ownership of all subsidiaries bar TCH Recruit Ireland.

As TCH invested millions in acquisitions and their development, some company insiders were dismayed that there was inadequate editorial investment in the company’s cash generators, The Irish Examiner and Evening Echo, which were delivering significant profits each year, until the international and domestic economy started to turn sour after 2008.

The company has not recorded a profit since the previous year, when it made after-tax profits of €11.03m on turnover of €113m, with 761 people on its payroll.

From entering 2006 debt free, in large part due to the €36m sale of the Irish Examiner’s Academy St offices, TCH had total bank debt of €27.7m at the start of 2011.

Four years later, in May 2010, Anthony Dinan rocked staff when — after being at the helm since 1995 — he suddenly retired and was replaced by Irish Examiner CEO Tom Murphy.

That year, TCH wrote down the value of a number of media brands acquired over the previous 15 years by €30m and recorded a pre-tax loss of €38.2m (2008 €3.5m) for the 53 weeks in the year ended Jan 3, 2010.

His successor as TCH group CEO, Mr Murphy, moved quickly to close or sell-off perennial loss making titles, closing The Irish Post and The Kingdom, and disposing of the Sligo Weekender and the Newry and Down Democrat at significant losses.

Furthermore, he put the TCH flagship headquarters — an imposing former bank on Cork’s South Mall which cost €3.6m to purchase and another €3m to refurbish — up for sale.

He reduced costs further by implementing significant headcount reduction and relocating other TCH staff into the nearby offices of the Irish Examiner and Evening Echo.

The flagship HQ became the location for TCH’s spectacular annual dinner, hosted by Mr Dinan. Speakers such as humanitarian and rock star Bob Geldof, comedian John Cleese of Monty Python and Fawlty Towers fame and former British primer minister John Major were hired to deliver the after-dinner speech.

Controversial author Jeffrey Archer was the celebrity speaker at the last TCH gala dinner in Mar 2009. The following year, with the recession biting deep and advertising revenues in the Irish media continuing to fall, the new group CEO sought further cost reductions and pay cuts.

At a private meeting with workers he outlined how the company was dealing with its banking debt, its future plans, and that it was seeking substantial costs cuts from suppliers, including Webprint Concepts, printers of the newspaper titles.

While the dramatic fall in advertising revenues due to the deepening recession accounted for most of the group’s financial woes, part of its troubles can be traced back to the decision to outsource the company’s printing in 2006 and the sale of the Irish Examiner/Evening Echo offices at Lapp’s Quay in Cork city centre.

Over the past 18 months, there were extensive negotiations between TCH and Webprint to achieve significant reductions in print costs, and while the printers agreed to some reductions it was considered inadequate by an increasingly financially troubled TCH.

Similarly, efforts to obtain a rent reduction in its ‘upward only’ leasehold interest in its Lapp’s Quay offices were unsuccessful. The building which houses the offices was built by Howard Holdings and is now in Nama.

The poor economic environment continued to make things worse, as the media, nationally and internationally suffered major reductions in advertising and circulation revenues.

In the US and the UK, hundreds of newspapers, including many leading and long-established titles closed, as readers migrated to their online platforms based on costly content created by professional journalists, but made available free-of-charge online.

Similar trends beset the newspaper industry in Ireland, resulting in the closure of the Sunday Tribune and falling circulation for most print titles. TCH titles were similarly not immune to the fallout from unprecedented economic decline and consumer desire for free online content.

Similar to all Irish newspapers, advertising revenues continued to fall and total company sales fell from €113m in 2007 to €71.8m in 2010, according to the last set of accounts filed by TCH.

Despite the cost cutting and wage reductions, with the combination of very high debt levels and contracting revenues, something had to give, and it gave yesterday with the appointment of Kieran Wallace as receiver to TCH.

However, with the restructuring of the company and the commitment of support from AIB, group CEO Tom Murphy is confident about the future.

“We have great titles and now we have the opportunity to put them on a strong financial footing to grow and develop, and meet the many challenges of a multi-platform media environment,” said Mr Murphy.

New group chairman, Tom Crosbie, said the changes put the business on a firm financial footing.

“We have some great brands, whether newspapers, radio or online and although the media industry is highly challenged I know that there is a media future.

While I regret the circumstances that led to this change and indeed the job losses, the reality is that with this deal we have the ability to turn the business around and make it great again,” he said.

Check out our subscription service, Finfacts Premium , at a low annual charge of €25 - - if you are a regular user of Finfacts, 50 euro cent a week is hardly a huge ask to support the service.


© Copyright 2011 by Finfacts.com

Top of Page

Irish
Latest Headlines
Ryanair revises up full-year profit guidance
AIB bank profitable in third quarter
Ryanair announces half-year profits up 32% to €795m
Ryanair benefits from improved customer service
Ryanair to buy 100 new Boeing 737 MAX 200
Finfacts server migration Thursday
State-owned Allied Irish Banks reports H1 2014 profit as bad loan charges plunge
Ryanair reports profit in its financial first quarter soared 152%
UK firm opens van dealership in Dublin
Ryanair reports 8% fall in full-year profit; US services to commence in 2019
Global Financial Centres Index: New York overtakes London; Dublin slips to 66 of 83 cities
Bank of Ireland reports “significant” improvement in 2013 results
Sale process of IBRC UK projects Rock and Salt completed
CRH says 2014 will be year of profit growth after reporting 2013 loss
Ryanair reports third-quarter loss
Irish Water says it saved €100m in setup costs
RSA Insurance fires two Irish executives for large loss/ accounting irregularities
Bank of Ireland will have to raise provisions by €1.4bn; AIB says it's "well capitalised"
CRH reports slightly improved third quarter
Central Bank says ownership of Newbridge Credit Union transferred to permanent tsb
Ryanair reports H1 profits rose by 1% to €602m
Dublin Web Summit: Irish Stock Exchange and NASDAQ OMX announce dual listing plan
Irish pension managed funds returned to growth during September
Dan O’Brien resigns as economics editor of The Irish Times
Central Bank says no action required on Anglo tapes revelations
Ryanair flew 9m passengers and Aer Lingus carried 1.1m in August
UK Competition Commission says Ryanair must cut Aer Lingus stake to 5%
CRH reports H1 2013 revenue dip and loss
Vodafone refunded UK after discovery of Irish tax haven deal
RBS reports half year profit; Ulster Bank posts reduced loss
Bank of Ireland cuts pretax losses in HI 2013 to €504m
Irish State-owned Allied Irish Banks reports losses of €758m in H1 2013
Service Announcement
Irish managed pension funds declined in June
VHI reports 2012 surplus of €54.3m; Health insurance made loss
Ex- Elan director says management / board "not competent to run a business"
Aer Lingus to put €140m in employees pensions fund; Ryanair apoplectic
Wednesday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - May 22, 2013
Tuesday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - May 21, 2013
Ryanair, Europe’s biggest low cost carrier, announced Monday record annual profits of €569m - - up 13%