AIB profits heavily underpinned by distressed loan sale, says Davy

Seen & Heard: the race to buy Clerys, investor angst at Hammerson, and complaint to EU about Google


Up to a quarter of the half-year profits that AIB are due to report this week come from the sale of its €1.1 billion Project Redwood portfolio of distressed commercial mortgages, according to The Sunday Times.

The gain from the disposal, which was announced in May, could be as much as €200 million before tax, according to stockbroker Davy, which expects total profits will be about €670 million after tax for the first six months of 2018, the newspaper reported.

The size of the return underscores the extent to which the successful resolution of the problem loans is still propping up banks’ results, despite the resumption of strong lending growth and an improvement in interest margins. It also raises concerns about future profitability after the legacy of bad loans has been finally worked through, the report said.

McKillen Junior leading race to buy Clerys for more than €60 million

Developer and Press Up Entertainment chief Paddy McKillen junior is in negotiations to acquire Clerys premises on O’Connell Street from businesswoman Deirdre Foley’s Natrium Consortium for a figure of over €60 million, The Sunday Independent is reporting.

McKillen junior was described by a source as being in pole position to secure ownership of the flagship department store. A number of other parties including US real estate giant Thor Equities, remain in contention, however, having submitted “very strong bids” in the sales process, which has been codenamed ‘Project Surf’, the report says.

Asked if McKillen junior, who runs Press Up with Matt Ryan, was now in exclusive talks in relation to the proposed acquisition of the iconic Clerys premises, the source said the developer was engaged in a “serious conversation” with Natrium and that “things were moving quickly”.

Shopping centre owner urged to be more radical

According to The Sunday Telegraph, the UK shopping centre owner Hammerson is facing a backlash from shareholders on plans to trim its portfolio of properties, amid simmering frustration over its handling of takeover bids earlier this year.

Activist investor Elliott Advisors, which recently increased its stake in Hammerson to almost 5.3 per cent, has spent the past few weeks rallying other shareholders to call for a more radical shake-up than the one due to be proposed this week by David Atkins, the chief executive.

Hammerson, the part-owner of Dundrum Town Centre in Dublin, has plans to develop the Carlton Cinema site on Upper O’Connell Street in Dublin, which has been largely idle since the cinema closed in 1994.

Google ‘undermining’ search competition

The Sunday Telegraph also has a report about Google being accused of using underhand tactics to create the illusion of competition in its search engine. This comes a year after the EU fined it billions for squeezing out rivals to its online shopping service.

A complaint to Europe’s competition tsar Margrethe Vestager alleges the US internet giant has artificially boosted rival shopping sites by providing them with free credits and allowed fake comparison shopping websites to feature in its results, the report said.

Irish whiskey makes a spirited comeback

The Financial Times magazine has a feature on the distillers reviving the prestige of Irish whiskey after years in the shadow of Scotch. At the forefront of the revival is Teeling, a young craft distillery in Dublin’s Liberties district that will, this October, launch the first whiskey to be distilled, aged and bottled in the city for more than 40 years.