Wirecard’s Irish investigation, non-bank mortgage market expands, and ‘grey vote’ backlash

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

Consumer and business confidence slipped this month with Covid-19, Brexit setbacks and supply bottlenecks. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Consumer and business confidence slipped this month with Covid-19, Brexit setbacks and supply bottlenecks. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins


The liquidators of the Irish arm of failed German electronic payments group Wirecard are focusing their investigation into an almost €400 million fraud on four key areas, its creditors have been told. In a report issued last week to creditors of Wirecard UK and Ireland Ltd, the joint liquidators, Ken Fennell and James Anderson of accountancy firm Deloitte, said they have completed two interim reports for the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement on the Dublin-based company’s collapse. Joe Brennan has the details.

Joe also reports that the chairman of the Association of Irish Mortgage Advisors (AIMA) Trevor Grant said he expects “a couple of” non-bank lenders to enter the State’s home loans market in the next 12 months as Ulster Bank and KBC Bank Ireland prepare to exit and new lending continues to grow. The AIMA has calculated that the share of mortgage drawdowns in the market stemming from the broker channel has grown to 40.7 per cent as of the third quarter of this year, up from 27.4 per cent two years earlier and a post-crash era low of about 14 per cent.

Do you know how to spot the chancers who are ‘winging it’ at your workplace? We’ve had plenty of examples the past week, with the gaffes over an Adele interview and the British PM’s rambling on Peppa Pig. Emma Jacobs writes that while we are generally bad at assessing others’ performance at work, true slackers will always slip up and reveal their true colours.

Mobile operator Three Ireland felt the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic last year as restrictions to slow the spread of the virus closed retail stores and travel bans led to a decline in roaming revenues. Ciara O’Brien has looked at the accounts for last year which shows revenue for 2020 was down 2 per cent to €593 million as customer roaming charges fell. However, Three Ireland reduced its pre-tax losses last year to €11 million, from €23 million in 2019, as expenses and cost of sales fell. Total losses fell to €31 million, down from €34 million a year earlier.

Ever hear the one about the statistician who drowned in a lake, average depth 12in?Averages can be elucidating; they can also be infuriating, as Eoin Burke-Kennedy discovered last week when the European Commission brought out a report indicating that house prices in Ireland are 17 per cent undervalued. That conclusion however, relied on outmoded statistics.

Consumer and business confidence slipped this month with Covid-19, Brexit setbacks and supply bottlenecks pushing the latest Bank of Ireland Economic Pulse to an eight month low. The index, which combines the results of the consumer and business pulses, posted a reading of 83.2 in November – down 4.4 on October but up 16.2 on a year ago. Consumers were cautious about the economy’s prospects this month but more positive about their own financial circumstance with many planning a Christmas splurge.

Belfast-born entrepreneur Bill McCabe’s Oyster Capital is expected to sell down part of its stake in HealthBeacon as the medical technology company prepares to float on the stock market in Dublin next month. Oyster Capital, an early backer of HealthBeacon, is the company’s largest shareholder with a 17 per cent stake, worth about €12.8 million. That’s based off an estimated €75 million valuation on the company, prior to its planned €25 million equity raise through an initial public offering (IPO) that’s on track to complete in the middle of December.

The Government can expect ‘grey vote’ backlash in the next election if it doesn’t take senior living seriously, writes Tom Sheridan, a development director with Tetrarch Homes. Ireland, he says, is very poorly served with solutions for older homeowners who may be looking to downsize in retirement or to live somewhere that can provide better security, facilities and care services as and when they need them. The country needs live in purpose-built developments that provide an alternative to the stark choice sometimes faced here between remaining in the family home or moving into a nursing home.

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