AIB results, Facebook’s frightful day, OpenHydro for liquidation and RTÉ’s future

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

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg didn’t create any good Facebook memories on Thursday. Photograph: Reuters

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg didn’t create any good Facebook memories on Thursday. Photograph: Reuters


In breaking news this morning, AIB has reported a €762 million pre-tax profit for the first of the year, helped by a €140 million gain from the sale of non-performing loans to a group led by US distressed-debt firm Cerberus.

Also this morning, Permanent TSB (PTSB) has said its chief risk officer, Stephen Groarke, will leave in the coming months to take up a senior finance position in the Irish operation of an international bank.

All eyes in the markets were on Facebook yesterday, as the social media giant dramatically racked up the biggest one-day loss ever seen in a US listed company, one day after issuing disappointing results. Suzanne Lynch reports from the US on a dreadful day for the company, while we also analyse what went wrong.

Back at home, Bank of Ireland has significantly raised its growth forecast for the economy, pointing to consumer confidence and rising incomes. Now predicting 6.5 per cent growth in GDP, the bank is firmly at the upper end of the optimism scale for this year’s outcome.

As US and EU negotiators celebrated a positive result from this week’s trade talks, Ardagh chief Paul Coulson yesterday told analysts that he favoured one of Donald Trump’s more controversial policy moves: tariffs on some Chinese imports. Mr Coulson was speaking after the can and glass maker posted quarterly results, as reported by Barry O’Halloran.

There was bad news for the Irish ocean energy sector yesterday after provisional liquidators were appointed to OpenHydro, a trailblazer in the area. The court heard that the company’s French owner was no longer willing to put money behind the venture, which employs 100.

Kings Laundry, a major supplier of linen to hotels, has been acquired by the French laundry services group Elis in a deal that could be worth some €30 million, according to Charlie Taylor. The business was founded out of the back of a shop in Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin.

Joe Brennan reports on plans by a London-listed real-estate investment trust to beef up its existing investment in Irish primary healthcare centres by investing a further €63 million. Primary Health Properties has already invested in five centres.

Mark Paul has details today of a planned expansion in London, Cork and Dublin by Camile Thai, the takeaway business founded by former O’Brien’s sandwich man, Brody Sweeney. The company was strongly profitable last year.

Laura Slattery takes an in-depth look at RTÉ today, considering the paths that lie open for the State broadcaster as it struggles with pressures emanating from many different quarters.

She also reports on Virgin Media’s plans for TV3, and on the latest radio listenerhsip figures, in which Ivan Yates is a winner.

In his Caveat column, Mark Paul asks why so many business people seem to be interested in throwing their hat into the forthcoming presidential race - is it just that they want to be loved?

John FitzGerald this week considers the various options available to the State as it faces up to climate change; it’s time to really hit the polluters in their pockets, he argues.

And in our Work section, Olive Keogh wonders if overprotecting our young people leaves them less able to cope when they do eventually need to enter the workplace. If so, perhaps they might consider less conventional working environments, such as cannabis growing in the US, a career that has worked out just fine for this week’s Wild Goose, Martin O’Brien.

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