Weekend Business Papers

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18-02-2024

The 1% Podcast

Daniel Levitin is a neuroscientist, cognitive psychologist, bestselling author and musician whose work encompasses music, the brain, health, productivity and creativity. He is the Founding Dean of Arts & Humanities at Minerva University in San Francisco and Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Neuroscience at McGill University in Montreal.

He is the author of the best-selling books This Is Your Brain on Music, The World in Six Songs, The Organized Mind, A Field Guide to Lies and Successful Aging (published in the UK as The Changing Mind). He has published more than 300 articles, in publications that include Science, Nature, PNAS, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and The Wall Street Journal.

As a musician, he has performed with the likes of David Byrne and Sting, has released two solo albums, produced and consulted on albums by artists including Stevie Wonder, Steely Dan and Joni Mitchell, and has been awarded 17 gold and platinum records.

Business Papers – The Main Talking Points

·    The Business Post reports the government may impose a cap on exit payments at RTE

·    The Sunday Independent reveals details of a new golden handshake at RTE

·    The Sunday Times says RTE’s director general approved the €200k exit deal for Rory Coveney

·    The Financial Times reports the EU is to slap a €500m fine on Apple over music streaming

·    The Wall Street Journal says US inflation fell in January, but the fall was less than expected

“We don’t know exactly what happened, but there is no doubt that the death of Navalny was a consequence of something Putin and his thugs did.”

— US President Joe Biden after the death of Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny.

Business Post

“Golden handshakes: Media minister threatens to cap RTE exit payments” is the cover splash on this week’s Business Post. The story follows another explosive week at the state broadcaster with the revelation that RTE’s former chief financial officer secured a €450,000 golden handshake when she left the company in 2020. Now media minister Catherine Martin has weighed in on the news, describing the exit payment as “eye-watering” and threatening to impose a cap on future payments for RTE’s high earners.
 
“Companies office halts strike-offs after 1,500 businesses shut in error” headlines this week’s other front-page story. Catherine Sanz reports that the CRO has suspended its entire strike-off process after it admitted to a series of errors which saw it wrongly remove registration from hundreds of companies meaning they no longer legally exist and can no longer trade or sell assets. An unnamed corporate lawyer quoted in the report said it meant the struck-off companies experienced a “corporate death” but have since been “resuscitated”.
 
On page nine of this week’s paper is an interview with Sinn Fein’s would-be finance minister, Pearse Doherty. Speaking to Conal Thomas, Doherty continues Sinn Fein’s charm offensive with Ireland’s business community, saying the party had dropped plans to immediately introduce a wealth tax if it gets into power after the next election. He said instead that it would set up a commission to examine the issue.
 
In brief
 
·    Sports brand Castore is opening its first high-street store in Ireland on Grafton Street
·    Gasgon Medical, a Cork-based medtech company, is seeking to raise €4m in funding
·    Norwegian energy giant Statkraft is selling a 200-megawatt solar farm in Meath to a UK investor
·    The Irish hotel market is set to post-sales approaching €1bn, say advisory real estate firm JLL
The Business Post is a digital subscription. We encourage you to support quality journalism and subscribe or buy the physical newspaper. Subscribe here.

The Sunday Independent

“Taoiseach on attack as RTE admits new golden handshake” is the front page headline of the Sunday Independent. The paper reports that Rory Coveney, the man who spearheaded the loss-making “Toy Story The Musical”, was given a golden handshake of around €200,000 when he left the broadcaster. The payout has led Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to say RTE was “entitled” and had “a culture of arrogance”. Meanwhile, in his column on the inside pages, Shane Ross calls for the entire RTE board to be sacked.
 
Turning to the business pages businessman Denis O’Brien selling the Beacon Hospital is the subject of the top story. O’Brien, who is believed to have made an estimated €250m on the transaction, said the deal was “bittersweet” because he believes healthcare is set to become “a major boom sector” in Ireland.
 
According to a report on page two of the business pages, Rugby legend Devin Toner is getting into the craft brewing act. The former Ireland and Leinster second-row star is part of a small group of investors putting €600,000 into O Brother Brewing. However, Toner said he would not be involved in the business’s day-to-day running.
 
In brief
 
·    Tesco Mobile Ireland recorded a €1.8m fall in its pre-tax profit in 2023
·    SK Biotek, a South Korean pharma development firm, is planning a €35m facility in Swords
·    The Powerscourt Hotel has received approval to build a staff housing complex at the estate
The Sunday Independent is a digital subscription. We encourage you to support quality journalism and subscribe or buy the physical newspaper. Subscribe here.

The Sunday Times

“RTE director-general approved €200k deal for Rory Coveney” headlines the top story in this week’s Sunday Times with a report that Kevin Bakhurst, RTE’s newly-installed director-general, approved the €200k golden handshake for Rory Coveney. “Rory’s role became redundant. An exit payment was offered by RTE and accepted by Rory, and with no backfill being made, RTE will recoup that payment by July of this year,” Bakhurst said. Meanwhile, it is revealed that Richard Collins, the former chief financial officer, had left RTE “by mutual agreement, with a binding confidentiality clause that “cannot be breached”.
 
Turning the business pages and “Johnny Ronan fights to keep landmark Tara St site” headlines one of this week’s top stories. Oliver Hodges reports that CIE is seeking to retake possession of the site where Ronan is trying to build Dublin’s tallest office and hotel after Ronan’s licence lapsed last year. According to the story, Ronan wants to reapply for planning permission to develop the location despite no longer possessing the licence to the site.
 
Also, this week is an interview with Catherine Toolan, managing director of the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin’s inner city. She tells Oliver Hodges about her plans for the tourist attraction, which has welcomed 24m visitors since 2000, saying she wants to expand the Storehouse’s appeal to a younger generation.
 
In brief
 
·    FBD said it expects its full-year results, which will be published in March, to beat expectations
The Sunday Times is a digital subscription. We encourage you to support quality journalism and subscribe or buy the physical newspaper. Subscribe here.

The Financial Times

According to this week’s Financial Times, the EU is set to slap a massive €500m on tech giant Apple for allegedly breaking EU law over access to its music streaming services.  The fine, which is expected to be announced early next month, is the culmination of a European Commission antitrust probe into whether Apple used its own platform to favour its services over those of competitors.
 
“Work from home if you want, but don’t expect a pay rise.” That’s the headline over a feature piece by Pilita Clark, which challenges the notion that working from home is good for workers. She cites research by the Bank of England which finds businesses with higher levels of homeworking had lower wage growth since 2022.
 
Some news from the high street and UK electronics retailer Currys has rejected an unsolicited bid from US investment group Elliott Management, saying it significantly undervalued the company. The company said the board had on Friday unanimously rejected a proposal of 62p per share which was roughly a 32% premium to its latest share price.
The FT is a digital subscription. We encourage you to support quality journalism and subscribe or buy the physical newspaper. Subscribe here.

The Wall Street Journal

“Inflation clouds rate-cut path” is the top headline in the Wall Street Journal. The paper reports that the US economy posted an inflation rate of 3.1% in January, which was higher than the 2.9% predicted by economists. The report said the number disappointed investors and “gave a nasty jolt to markets”.
 
US retail giant Walmart is “shopping in the TV aisle” with the news that it is in talks to buy TV maker Vizio. The deal, estimated to be worth $2bn, would give Walmart more places where it can sell ads and pitch goods.
 
And finally, how can you stop yourself and others from dozing off during virtual meetings? Well, a feature piece by Niina Nurmi advises keeping the meetings small and short and warns participants about multitasking. But perhaps her best tip is to hide your picture from yourself (but not from others), saying, “Staring at your own image is distracting and leads to increased anxiety”.
The WSJ is a digital subscription. We encourage you to support quality journalism and subscribe or buy the physical newspaper. Subscribe here.

Shay Dalton 

All views are strictly my own brief interpretation of the articles in the various publications and are not intended to be comprehensive. Please feel free to forward to friends or colleagues and get in touch if you wish to add contacts to the mailing list.