ECB rates, Irish inflation and a long-abandoned hotel

The best news, analysis and comment from The Irish Times business desk


On Thursday, the European Central Bank (ECB) unsurprisingly maintained its key deposit rate at a record high of 4 per cent. But, as Joe Brennan reports, it also offered its clearest signal yet that cuts are on the way. Financial markets are betting on a reduction in June.

Ciara O’Brien looks at the Irish picture – the annual rate of inflation fell to under 3 per cent in March, the fifth month in a row that the rise in the cost of living was under 5 per cent. In early April, Irish inflation fell below the ECB’s target rate of 2 per cent for the first time in almost three years.

Many may wonder what happened to Waterford’s Ard Rí Hotel, the seemingly-abandoned hulk of a building that looks down over the river Suir. Barry O’Halloran reports that its fate is to be the subject of a High Court case next week in which Irish group Treacys Hotels will clash with US fund Cerberus over a disputed sale agreement.

In its latest round of cuts, Irish Independent and Sunday Independent publisher Mediahuis Ireland has reduced its employee headcount by 50, including a number of compulsory redundancies. Laura Slattery has the details on how the company, which employed close to 550 people at the start of the year, has sought to shrink its staff.

Five years haver securing planning permission, the family-owned Arboretum has completed its €4.5 million outlet upgrade at the National Garden Exhibition Centre in Kilquade, Co Wicklow, a move that will also create about 25 jobs. The Doyle family, ahead of Friday’s unveiling, talk all things retail, sustainable gardening and indoor plants with Ian Curran.

In the planning world, Gordon Deegan has details of Cork developer Michael O’Flynn’s successful application for a mixed use development in Co Kildare despite a submission from serial planning objectors Michael Callaghan and John Callaghan’s Mayo based An Lucht Inbhuanaithe.

Avcom, the event production agency, has scored again with another contract to run audiovisual and support services at Croke Park’s meetings and events business. Ian Curran reports on this next success for the Dublin company, worth €7.5 million.

Remember all those fears around the spectre of privatising Ireland’s water supply? In his column today, John FitzGerald reflecting on an often dubious track record in the UK – notes that with the exception of telecommunications, Ireland has largely withheld its big networks in State ownership. The privatisation of monopolies, he argues, makes no sense. But where it occurs, regulators must have the clout to prevent owners from borrowing heavily and paying themselves large dividends. It is also critical that State-run utilities have access to adequate financing.

There is some legal intrigue at Swiss-Irish baked goods group Aryzta, where former chief executive Kevin Toland has launched an unspecified legal action. Toland left more than three years ago with a €1.8 million pay-off. As Joe Brennan reports, neither side has commented on the exact nature of the case, which is at an early stage.

It among Ireland’s most famous tourist attractions and the Wild Atlantic Way is now 10-years-old. A report to mark the anniversary of its post-crash conception, has set out just how successful it has been since then, now accounting for €3 billion in tourism revenues annually. The coastal landscape might sell itself, but the masterclass in packaging, and its impact, has been analysed in a new Fáilte Ireland report. Mark Hilliard reports.

Dominic Coyle reports on how, according to a group representing generic drug producers, Ireland’s health system is wasting money on medicines. Medicines for Ireland believes policymakers must quickly recognise that generic, biosimilar, and value-added medicines could bring about significant savings.

US private equity group Blackstone has secured a controlling stake in Winthrop Technologies. The deal values the Irish data centre business at over €800 million. Ciara O’Brien has details of the story, including how Winthrop is now one of the biggest construction companies focused on the data centre sector in Europe, operating across seven markets.

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