Vacant site levy faces legal challenge after farmer concession

Seen & Heard: Smurfit Kappa under pressure, convenience at Lidl and healthy profit at Holland & Barrett

The Government’s vacant site levy will face legal challenges from disgruntled housebuilders. Photograph: Frank Miller

The Government’s vacant site levy will face legal challenges from disgruntled housebuilders. Photograph: Frank Miller

 

The Government’s vacant site levy will face legal challenges from disgruntled housebuilders after Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy appeared to accede in part to farmers’ calls to be removed from the measure, the Sunday Independent reports.

The climbdown has sparked a call for equal treatment from the Construction Industry Federation, with the industry body expecting challenges to the levy if it is applied as a blunt instrument.

International Paper’s bid for Smurfit Kappa faces a make-or-break week, according to the Sunday Times, with pressure rising for the Irish company to engage in talks.

The US group has been called upon by stock analysts to increase its bid for Smurfit Kappa. John Bennett of investment fund Janus Henderson, which holds 4.5 per cent of Smurfit, said it had made it “absolutely clear” to International Paper that it did not expect the Smurfit board to recommend an offer below €40 a share.

Lidl Ireland will ramp up its convenience food and drinks offering to include a greater focus on healthy eating, according to the Sunday Independent.

JP Scally, managing director of Lidl’s Irish division, told the newspaper the retailer had historically not been “fantastic” at providing convenience food and was developing the range. The German discounter has noticed a trend within convenience towards healthy convenience, “particularly salads”.

Holland & Barrett’s Irish business made healthy returns for its new owners, booking pre-tax profits of €3.7 million in the year to the end of September 2017, according to the Sunday Times.

Profits at the health food retailer were down on 2016, when they reached €5.4 million, although turnover rose €1 million to €35.1 million. The chain, founded in Britain in 1870, is now owned by a retail investment fund controlled by Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman.

T5 Oil and Gas, the Irish exploration firm led by Tullow Oil veteran Pat Plunkett, has begun an early-look investor roadshow ahead of a likely €50 million initial public offering (IPO) later this year, reports the Sunday Business Post.

The roadshow will test investor appetite and see how interested the market might be in a potential flotation at a time when oil prices are rising. The firm is being advised by stockbrokers Davy.

The Revenue Commissioners has split its large cases division into two separate divisions, one dealing with large corporations and another concentrating on high net worth individuals, reports the Sunday Independent.

The Revenue said it was restructuring the division in line with economic changes. Other operational changes within the tax authority relate to external factors such as the international tax agenda, State aid issues and Brexit.