Seen & Heard: Row at INM and hopes fade for House of Fraser

INM’s court documents; Irish banks to sell more loans; Google leasing more office space

A House of Fraser store in London.  Photograph: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA

A House of Fraser store in London. Photograph: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA


“A row has blown up” between Denis O’Brien and Independent News and Media (INM), where O’Brien is the largest shareholder, over board appointments, according to the Sunday Times. The paper reports on correspondence between INM and Mr O’Brien’s Baycliffe company, which says Kieran Mulvey, whom Mr O’Brien wants to appoint to INM’s board, “is being messed around”. The story says INM wants any new O’Brien appointments to be paired with independent directors.

The Sunday Times separately reports on allegations contained within court documents that Leslie Buckley, O’Brien’s former nominee and one-time INM chairman, opposed the dismissal of former INM senior editor Stephen Rae in case he might “retaliate” by revealing alleged instances of his facilitating editorial interference.

ESB’s capacity woes

A Dublin business that sought additional power capacity from ESB Networks was told that new data centres had eaten up capacity that traditionally would have catered for 30 years’ growth, according to a report in the Sunday Times.

EY predicts further €5.3bn of loan sales

The Sunday Business Post reports on an internal client note at consultancy EY that predicts a further €5.3 billion of sales of Irish toxic bank debt will complete this year. The EY “guide for potential buyers of distressed Irish debt” lists a range of upcoming sales by Irish banks, including the Project Glas sale of mortgages by Permanent TSB that completed last week.

Brexit shock

Brexit will deliver a major “financial shock” to Ireland’s small and medium enterprise sector, according to a Department of Finance tax strategy group document, reported in the Sunday Business Post. The document warns that the return of duty-free shopping with Britain would strain the State’s finances.

Google expands

The Sunday Independent reports that Google has agreed to lease six floors at the Grand Canal Quay docklands building owned by Denis O’Brien. The extra space, as well as a planned deal to buy the nearby Treasury building from developers Johnny Ronan and Paddy McKillen, are part of Google’s “drive to expand” in the area, the paper says.

House of Fraser bonds nosedive

The Sunday Telegraph reports that hopes for a rescue deal for retailer House of Fraser, which operates a large store at the Dundrum Town Centre, are “fading” after a “cash crunch forced the price of its bonds into a rapid spiral”. A putative Chinese-led rescue stalled last week, sending the bonds into a nosedive.