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Inside the world of business

Angry Birds chief soars in popularity stakes

The chief executive and co-founder of Rovio, the Finnish company behind the Angry Birds game, stood out at a worldwide gathering of successful entrepreneurs in Monaco yesterday.

The annual Ernst & Young entrepreneur of the year awards are taking place in the small principality, with the contestants being put through their paces by a panel of interviewing judges prior to the announcement of the winner later today.

Despite the fact that all the world’s continents are represented, and all the world’s major cultures, the men were all similarly dressed, in dark suits and single coloured shirts, while the women (wives mostly) were an interesting mix of power dressing, bling, and quiet style.

The women from India and sub-Saharan Africa won the prize for colourful local clothing while Asia is the cultural home of bling.

Mikael Hed was different. He had what looked like a pretty cheap strawberry red hoodie on, complete with an image of a beloved, wealth-generating Angry Bird on its front. An associate carried a bag containing AB franchise items and stickers and the sort.

Hed was in such huge demand from journalists that by yesterday morning his throat was all but worn out. By midday he had cancelled all further interviews (he was due to be interviewed by the competition judges in the afternoon).

It was an interesting example of the market penetration that comes with one billion downloads. Few journalists covering the Monaco gathering fessed up to actually playing the game, but it was a rare parent/journalist, no matter what continent or culture they were from, who didn’t smile, or groan, at mention of the game.

Tax take may stall on emissions plan 

THE ADVENT of an emissions-based tax regime for cars in July 2008 was meant to push environmental issues up the motoring public’s agenda. A quick perusal of the sales figures since then clearly shows that, in terms of the green agenda at least, it has been a monumental success. This year 92 per cent of all new cars sold have emissions of less than 140g/km (and 53 per cent below 120g/km), thereby falling into the two lowest tax bands for motor tax and Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT).

This compares to 2007 when the majority of cars had emissions above 156g/km and the average motorist cared little about their carbon footprint. When you add a monetary incentive to the mix it seems that even the Irish motoring public can become environmentally conscious.

There is a sting in the tail, however. Tax income from new car sales have plummeted as CSO figures for May show new cars taxed for the first time so far this year down by 10 per cent. From the heady days of 2007 when the new tax system was being crafted and new car sales figures stood at 186,238, last year sales were just shy of 90,000. This year it’s likely to be closer to 80,000.

The problem for the Government is that this fall in sales coincides with major reductions in emissions by the car manufacturers. A leaked EU Commission report says car firms will have to cut their emissions by a third by 2020.

The Minister for Finance has promised an overhaul of the motor tax system in the upcoming budget. The word is that all options are being considered. These range from simply lowering the emissions levels for each band, to a hybrid mix of emissions, car size or even weight. The ultimate aim, however, is to inflate the tax take without killing off the motor trade.

But if emissions continue to be the basis for tax policy, the mandarins need to be very careful that the measurements take into account the rapid reductions likely to feature on new cars in the next five years.

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Next week

Spain will continue to dominate the news with the IMF to publish a report on the Spanish banking system

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