‘Zombie’ businesses surviving on State Covid supports for now

Seen & Heard: Germany to win Intel scheme; and job hunters home in on remote work

Insolvencies down due to Covid supports

Many so-called “zombie” businesses that otherwise would have gone bust are being kept alive on State Covid supports, according to figures supplied to the Sunday Times. The paper reports that financial firm PKF O’Connor, Leddy & Holmes estimates that there were fewer than 400 insolvencies in the Irish market last year. It said about 600 would be expected in a normal trading year. The practice warned that solvent businesses would be damaged by competing against otherwise insolvent businesses.

McKillen jnr hotels refinanced

Hotels controlled by developer Paddy McKillen jnr have been refinanced by US property investor Starwood Property Trust, the Sunday Times reports. It says the hotels include the Glasson Lakehouse neat Athlone and the Dean hotel in Galway. The paper also says that Oval Acorn, a holding company for McKillen's hotels, has received a €30 million equity injection from London private equity firm Signal Capital.

Wind farm planning permission

The Sunday Independent reports that renewable energy developer EMPower plans to raise about €250 million in fresh equity to help it build out its wind farm portfolio in Ireland. The company says it expects to get planning permission for about 60 per cent of its projects here, which include seven schemes that would provide a total of 375mw of power. EMPower expects to raise most of the cash from its existing shareholders, which include pension funds in New Zealand and Australia.

Overseas Zoom board meetings

The rise of the Omicron variant of the virus has prompted the State’s tax authorities to extend for a month a concession to companies to facilitate board meetings over Zoom with overseas directors, the Sunday Independent also writes. The concession had been due to run out at the end of 2021 but has been extended by Revenue to the end of January. It is important for companies with overseas directors that want to maintain Irish tax domicile: previously they had to travel to Ireland for in-person board meetings to meet domicile criteria.

Ireland loses out on Intel plant

The Business Post says it will be confirmed in coming weeks that Intel has decided not to locate a new €80 billion chip plant in Ireland. This country had been on a shortlist for the new investment along with Poland and Germany, where the Post says the investment will go. Ireland was never considered a favourite for the Intel investment, due to concerns in the company at the pressure on energy and water infrastructure here and delays in the planning process.

Desmond puts $50m into Canadian miner

Dermot Desmond is putting up a fresh $50 million in funding for Mountain Province Diamonds, a Canadian miner in which he is the largest shareholder, the Business Post reports. The company says part of the proceeds will be used to pay back a previous $25 million loan by one of Desmond's companies to MPD, which owns 49 per cent of the Gahcho Kue diamond mine in the Arctic.

Remote job hunters

The Business Post also reports that job ads for digital payments firm Revolut and TikTok owner Bytedance were among the most viewed on LinkedIn in Ireland last year. The head of Linkedin's Irish operation, Sharon McCooey, said the fact that six of the top 10 most viewed ads contained an element of remote working should serve as a "warning" to employers. Only one in seven LinkedIn job ads were for remote working, which is now the most important factor for job hunters.