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News : International Last Updated: Jun 2, 2014 - 9:14 AM


Friday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - May 30, 2014
By Finfacts Team
May 30, 2014 - 9:14 AM

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Irish Independent

ALL 1,100 jobs at contact lens maker Bausch and Lomb will be lost unless it gets €21m savings.

In an ultimatum to shocked staff at its Waterford plant, the US company said it is set to slash 200 jobs and cut pay by 20pc to bring it in line with its US workers' wages. But if the remaining staff refuse to accept the 20pc pay cut all the jobs will be axed.

Staff got a devastating blow yesterday when Bausch and Lomb announced it needed "substantial cost reductions" to keep the plant open.

It said it aimed to bring costs closer to those in Rochester, New York, where wage rates are 30pc lower.

"The feeling inside is anger," said one devastated worker after hearing the news. "I don't think people are going to roll over. The country is down the tubes."

GARDAI are investigating 16 complaints relating to activities at NAMA.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has confirmed that a senior officer from the fraud squad has been appointed to look at all the issues.

Although the minister did not describe the nature of the complaints, the Irish Independent understands that several relate to allegations of personal information being leaked.

NAMA, which has generated €18.6bn in cash since its formation in 2009, said that it was aware of investigations into two ex-employees. A spokesperson noted that it "referred" the two former workers to the authorities in September 2012 and February 2013.

A LABOUR TD has revealed that he had to "bite the bullet" and dismiss a parliamentary assistant who was a childhood friend.

At an Employment Appeals Tribunal hearing in Ennis yesterday, Michael McNamara said that "a degree of sentimentality" initially stopped him from dismissing friend Conor Daly, but his contract was terminated in March 2012.

The politician said that he knew Mr Daly from childhood when they would play together with Mr McNamara's cousins at their home in east Clare.
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Mr McNamara said that Mr Daly started to cry when he told him at a "difficult" meeting in March 2012 that he would not be renewing his probation period.

Monday's jobs figures for the first three months of 2014 got less media coverage than usual as the country's attention was focused on election results and the Tánaiste's resignation.

That the numbers got little attention was probably just as well. They were not encouraging. They showed that the remarkable increase in employment from the middle of 2012 until the end of 2013 came to a shuddering halt at the beginning of this year.

In the first quarter of 2014 the numbers at work in the economy, when seasonal fluctuations are stripped out, stood at 1.9 million, almost unchanged on the previous quarter. This followed five consecutive very strong quarterly increases in employment. Indeed, the rate of jobs growth was so strong from the middle of 2012 to the final quarter of last year that it topped the league among the 28 members of the EU in the period. The first quarter figures disappointed not only because the numbers at work are a hugely important indicator in terms of national well being, but because most other indicators (including separate figures on those claiming unemployment benefit) pointed to jobs growth in early 2014.

Irish Times

Feargal O'Rourke of PwC: As Bob Dylan puts it, “You don’t have to be a weatherman to know which way the wind blows” and change is coming in the global tax environment. But, perhaps contrary to the conventional wisdom, this could end up playing out quite well for Ireland in the medium to long term.

Let’s start at the end game. It is in Ireland’s strategic economic interests to have a corporate tax regime that attracts investment, creates employment and rewards risk.

However, it must also be accepted by the global community as a competitive but fair tax system. We need to take the long-term view. In the current global debate, being hosted by the OECD under its BEPS (base erosion and profit shifting) agenda, it is the last factor that has Ireland in the spotlight. Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has rolled out his “3Rs” – rate, regime and reputation. The 12.5 per cent rate is a settled issue. Ireland’s tax regime is rules-based and transparent; but how does Ireland’s tax reputation stack up at what is a pivotal time in the global tax environment?

A 24-hour strike at Aer Lingus, which commenced this morning, has hit over 200 flights and affected the travel plans of some 30,000 people.

In a statement this morning the airline described the strike as “unwarranted and unnecessary” and said it would cause “huge disruption”.

The company said its cabin crew “enjoy some of the most favourable working conditions in Ireland. Changes to working conditions such as rosters should be agreed in an orderly and responsible manner and our paying customers should not be used as leverage by IMPACT in their negotiations”.

The National Asset Management Agency intends to ask Minister for Finance Michael Noonan about the possibility of offering “retention payments” to staff in order to prevent them from leaving for the private sector.

Nama chairman Frank Daly told the Public Accounts Committee that nobody in the agency was currently in receipt of a bonus but that a payment, deferred until the agency completed its work, was something that might need to be considered to incentivise staff to remain. Some 15 staff have left the agency this year.

Responding to Independent TD Shane Ross, he said Nama staff earned an average of €90,000 per annum but were in a “unique” situation as the progress they made in their work in shifting the assets held brought them closer to redundancy. Nama is due to complete its work by 2020 but the committee today heard this date was open ended and could come as soon as 2018.

Google has launched a service through which European citizens can request that links to what they deem as objectionable material be taken off search results, the first step to comply with a court ruling affirming the “right to be forgotten.”

The world’s largest Internet search engine, which processes more than 90 per cent of all Web searches in Europe, said that it has made available a webform through which people can submit their requests, but stopped short of specifying when it would remove links that meet the criteria for being taken down.

Google also said it has convened a committee of senior Google executives and independent experts to try and craft a long-term approach to dealing with what’s expected to be a barrage of requests from the region’s roughly half-billion occupants.

Irish Examiner

The 505 largest hedge fund managers in the world, each with over $1bn (€734m) under management, control 90% of the industry’s assets, research by Preqin showed yesterday.

They collectively manage $2.39 trillion of the industry’s $2.66tn in assets but account for just 11% of active firms, the industry tracker said in a statement.

“The increase in hedge fund assets is being driven by allocations from the largest investors in hedge funds, those which currently allocate more than $1bn to the asset class,” said Amy Bensted, head of hedge funds products.

“With these investors allocating approximately $650bn to hedge funds, an 18% increase from this time last year, it will be important for hedge fund managers to attract inflows from these prominent institutional investors,” Ms Bensted added.

Europe

Euro Topics: Berliners want freedom, not flats: In a referendum on Sunday 65 percent of those who took part voted against the plans of the Berlin Senate to build residential flats on the former site of Tempelhof airport, which is currently being used as a park. The politicians underestimated the Berliners, the left-liberal daily Berliner Zeitung comments: "They don't know how important places that give people a sense of freedom are for Berlin. Without such feelings of freedom Berlin wouldn't be Berlin. Political freedom has been defended in the city of the Berlin Wall. ... Without freedom Berlin would be just another big city. But Berlin is a place of yearning. You can't plan places of yearning, they aren't just made. They emerge where people look for and find them. If you look at the Tempelhof airfield from this point of view, all the arguments of those who want to build flats fade into irrelevance. ... But the Tempelhof airfield needs more. It needs to be about ideas for the 22nd century. The freedom of Tempelhof gives us the unique opportunity to design the city of the future. Inhabiting, working, living - what could these things look like in the future?"

Cracow's mature citizens vote against Olympics: Almost 70 percent of the residents of the Polish city of Cracow who took part in a referendum on Sunday voted against their city making a bid to host the Winter Olympics in 2022. This result proves that the citizens of Poland are gaining in maturity, Radosław Leniarski of the liberal daily Gazeta Wyborcza comments approvingly: "Putin and his 50 billion dollars for Sochi have undoubtedly put people off the idea. The celebrations for the games at the Black Sea resort were more lavish than ever before. The games were so sumptuous that this couldn't be repeated. ... The decision of the residents of Cracow is from my point of view a reason to be optimistic. Because it shows that we are starting to understand how much depends on us, the citizens. We know what we are worth and don't just get hysterical about things. ... But naturally this referendum should have been held before the application for Cracow's candidacy was submitted."

Pyrrhic victory for the Flemish nationalists: The Flemish nationalist Bart De Wever was tasked with forming a government on Tuesday following the victory of his N-VA party in Belgium's parliamentary elections. The liberal Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad doubts he will be able to accomplish this: "De Wever promised to reform the social welfare system. Rightly so. Because in what other European country are people entitled to life-long unemployment benefits? So it's better to tackle that problem than to take on the umpteenth state reform. But his real agenda is federalism with as much Flemish autonomy as possible. This makes the N-VA a threat to the structure of the Belgian state. ... Both at the national level and in Flanders it would be possible to form a government without the N-VA. ... The traditional parties didn't suffer a real defeat and could leave the N-VA out of the equation. ... Prime Minister Elio di Rupo restored stability after Belgium set a new record with coalition negotiations that went on for 541 days in 2011. This time smoking out the N-VA could be a quicker process."

Anne Knudsen fears war in Europe: In view of the success of the right-wing populist and Eurosceptic parties in the European elections, editor-in-chief Anne Knudsen of Weekendavisen, a Danish magazine, sees the threat of war in Europe growing in the long-term in the conservative weekly Weekendavisen: "It's not unlikely that the Eurosceptic parties that won't have any influence on EU policy will fight their way to power in their home countries and begin to divide the Union. Although the EU is portrayed as powerful and strong, it is a vulnerable construction. If one or two countries leave the Union it will be difficult to keep the rest together. ... The EU's weakest element is its foreign policy. If the major countries start pursuing their own foreign policy our part of the world will really be in trouble; Putin dreams of nothing else. ... The main goal of the Union is therefore its original one: preventing war in Europe. At this point the risk is small that war could break out between the current EU members. But war comes to those that can't defend themselves, and as individual entities the EU states don't come across as particularly frightening."
 


© Copyright 2011 by Finfacts.com

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