City hotels in crisis; property titans fall out; and airlines look for green light

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

Conor O’Kelly, chief executive of the NTMA. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Conor O’Kelly, chief executive of the NTMA. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times


Dublin city centre hotels are facing a disastrous summer, Mark Paul reports, with average peak-summer occupancy levels forecast to be only 13 per cent. With staycationers heading down the country, the capital is losing out most from the lack of foreign visitors.

The two founders of the Davy Hickey property group have fallen out over how best to sell most of its property assets, including the Citywest campus. Founder David Shubotham is claiming mismanagement and shareholder oppression by a group of directors including fellow founder Brendan Hickey at Oviedo, which is managing the sale of the Davy Hickey properties.

Irish food firm Kerry Group said it would sell its British and Irish consumer foods’ meats and meals business to US poultry producer Pilgrim’s Pride for €819 million.

Covid vaccine developer Curevac saw its shares plunge after it released data showing the efficacy of its mRNA vaccine candidate was only 47 per cent. Derek Scally in Berlin has the details.

The State’s debt management agency, the NTMA, is on the hunt for a new chief executive, Cliff Taylor reports, with Conor O’Kelly due to stand down from the post next year.

A lot happening in aviation, with Aer Lingus and BA CityFlyer announcing the will take over a total of 10 routes hit when Stobart Air folded at the weekend, at least for the summer. Talks continue over the Irish public service obligation routes to Kerry and Donegal from Dublin.

Separately, Barry O’Halloran reports that Ryanair is calling for the immediate introduction in Ireland of Covid digital certificates to facilitate summer travel. The airline has also started legal action in the UK over that government traffic light system of managing international travel.

In Agenda, Barry takes a broader view of the state of the sector and what it will ultimately cost the Government to get it back on its feet.

Dublin could see a new highest tower, with Ruirside Developments – part of developer Joe O’Reilly’s Castlethorn – and Chartered Land Group lodging a revised planning application today with An Bord Pleanála for a 30-storey apartment building at Parkgate Street near Heuston Station. It is taller than an earlier proposal that was knocked back on design grounds.

Still with housing, figures from the Central Bank show that the number of home loans classified as being in arrears has fallen over the first three months of the year despite the economic upheaval associated with Covid-19. However, more than 5,000 mortgages are now over 10 years in arrears.

Horizon Therapeutics, an Irish-domiciled but US headquartered pharma group is buying EirGen Pharma’s Co Waterford-based drug product manufacturing facility in a ¤54.5 million deal. Charlie Taylor writes that it is the company’s first move directly into manufacturing.

In World of Work, Olive Keogh looks at one alarming side effect of the return to more normal work patterns – a rise in car crashes. One of the main causes of these accidents is drivers falling asleep at the wheel. There’s a message there for managers handling workers worn down by the stress of the job.

Finally, in Caveat, Mark Paul argues that no-one is listening to Ireland on tax any more and we could face further attacks on our corporate tax structures. For now, our European partners, fed-up with our foot-dragging over multinationals’ tax avoidance, has pulled a fast one on us over the corporate tax rate.

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