Cerberus and Ulster’s loans, will Budget 2021 work, and Ryanair’s retrenchment

Business Today: the best news, analysis and comment from The Irish Times business desk

US investment bank Cerberus is considering an approach for Ulster Bank’s Irish loan book. Photograph: Rollingnews.ie

US investment bank Cerberus is considering an approach for Ulster Bank’s Irish loan book. Photograph: Rollingnews.ie


As Ulster Bank’s future in the Irish market remains uncertain, US investment bank Cerberus is considering an approach for its €20.5 billion loan book, writes Joe Brennan. Cerberus was an aggressive buyer of Irish distressed debt in the wake of the financial crisis.

Ryanair’s confirmation on Thursday that it would close its Cork and Shannon bases for the winter left local businesses reeling, as Olivia Kelleher and Barry O’Halloran report. One Cork hotelier operating near Cork Airport says his properties employed 273 people in February but are now struggling to retain their remaining 100 staff.

Barry O’Halloran also writes that a Nama executive has emerged as a likely candidate to head multinational property group, Hammerson’s Irish operations.

And Joe Brennan reports that the new US owners of AA Ireland have poached senior Liberty Mutual executive Tom McIlduff to take over as the chief executive of the roadside and assistance and insurance intermediary.

As the fallout from Budget 2021 continues to settle, Cliff Taylor takes a forensic look at what amounts to an ¤18 billion gamble and asks, will it actually work? He identifies the six key factors we all need to watch.

John FitzGerald also casts an eye over the Budget, reckoning that the huge borrowing it includes is sustainable. He is critical of some specific budgetary measures however, likening them to taking a “blunderbuss approach” that will be wasteful.

One measure that caught the eye of Mark Paulwas a cut in the VAT rate that applies to tourism. In his Caveat column, he outlines why this cut should be seen as a help to business rather than consumers and how it could end up being extremely efficient.

With advice to work from home where possible now extended, Olive Keogh considers the importance of “unplugged” time where we switch off from our jobs. Employers must make sure their staff take regular time out if they don’t want to deal with declining productivity, she writes.

This week’s Wild Goose is Sarah Jane Bennett, whose love of travelling took her in many different career directions, eventually leading her to settle in Singapore after meeting her husband in Melbourne, Australia. She tells Barbara McCarthy about her mother’s advice when she left Meath: “whatever you do, don’t marry an Australian”.

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