CIÉ’s ‘bleak’ finances, a Kinsale Spirits NFT and why KBC had ‘one eye on the door’

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

16/04/2021 - NEWS - KBC Bank branch, KBC Bank Headquarters, KBC HQ, Sandwith Street, Dublin.  Photograph Nick Bradshaw for The Irish Times

16/04/2021 - NEWS - KBC Bank branch, KBC Bank Headquarters, KBC HQ, Sandwith Street, Dublin. Photograph Nick Bradshaw for The Irish Times

 

After more than a year of Covid-19 restrictions, the outlook is unsurprisingly “bleak” for the State-owned CIÉ group of transport companies that includes Iarnród Éireann, Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann, and the group is now warning that it is “balance sheet insolvent”, Martin Wall reports.

Brexit fallout continues, with City of London stockbroker Numis Securities considering setting up an equities sales and trading desk in Dublin to service clients in the EU. It is one of a small number of UK still in limbo having not set up a hub in the EU before Brexit transition arrangements ended in December, Joe Brennan reports.

The craze for non-fungible tokens (NFTs) remains alive and well, with Kinsale Spirits looking to cash in by auctioning a digital representation of a rare cask of 20-year single malt. The company is hoping to raise a minimum of €60,000 from the auction to go towards the cost of establishing a new distillery, Charlie Taylor reports.

On the face of it, KBC Bank Ireland – the bank founded in 1973 as Irish Intercontinental Bank (IIB) and soon taken over by Belgian group KBC – should be the kind of “digital-first”, branch-light bank that thrives in the changing financial landscape.

But the legacy of the financial crisis has held it back, and it now looks as if it always had “one eye on the door”, Joe Brennan hears. He explores why the bank is searching for an Irish exit and the impact this will have on financial services in this week’s Agenda feature.

Think being a non-executive company director is all about listening, nodding and sipping water during static meetings in the name of cautious oversight? The dynamic between boards and management teams is changing, with chief executives seeking expertise and robust engagement from directors, Olive Keogh writes in World of Work.

And finally, until the Government pulls together a coherent medium-term plan to address youth unemployment and housing, this State will be no country for the young, argues Mark Paul in his Caveat column.

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