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Syndicated News Archives - Page 8 of 258 - Ansell Ryan Young

The Big Tech Show: Why are we freaking out about Amazon jobs?

How has it come to a situation where a big tech company announcing 1,000 new jobs is freaking people out?

This week’s Amazon jobs announcement has led to a backlash from people who feel it will put extra pressure on rents and infrastructure in the capital.
Where will they live?”

“Oh great, even higher rents…”

“Why are these jobs all in Dublin?”

“How many will come from abroad?”

20, 10 or even five years ago, big job announcements were seen as a huge boost to the country.

Today, they’re seen as a threat.

Adrian Weckler and Irish Independent environment editor Paul Melia discuss the origins of the problem and potential solutions.

The resentment appears to come from those trying to buy a home or rent an apartment. The already sparse stock of available accommodation gets thinner and thinner. A two-bedroom terraced ex-council home that sold for €280,000 three years ago now costs €400,000. A 450 square foot one-bed apartment that cost €900 now costs €1,200.

Engineers can afford to pay this. Retail or service industry workers can’t.

At the heart of the problem is the feeling that we haven’t gotten our act together on housing and infrastructure.

So more and more of us are being squeezed out of parts of the city where rents and house prices are rocketing.

But instead of blaming ourselves (planners, politicians, councillors, lawyers and countless Nimby-addled community associations) for the Wild West property market, we’re turning on companies offering new jobs.

If only multinational firms would stop coming in with these jobs, things might be easier for ‘ordinary people’.

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A new property search engine, Perfect Property, has revealed the budget of the average house hunter in Dublin.

According to the site, the average house hunter in Dublin has a budget of €315,000 for their prospective home.

However, there are some exceptions, with 4pc of Dubliners having a budget of €1m and 1pc having a budget of €5m when it comes to searching for houses, according to research on from the site.

Meanwhile, the site has found that the majority of searches are for houses, with just under three in four consumers searching for houses as opposed to apartments.

And the areas proving to be most popular for property searches include Finglas, Swords, Tallaght and Malahide.

“Our focus at Perfect Property is to work with house hunters and make the journey to their new homes as seamless as possible,” Laura Pollard, managing director at Perfect Property, said.

“Our latest insights will help people in search of a new home by showing them at there are various options when considering one of the biggest purchases they’ll ever make.”

The research also suggests that just over one in four house hunters are looking for properties with renovation potential.

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Nama surplus for taxpayers forecast to reach €4.5bn

Nama will deliver a €4.5bn surplus over its life – around €1bn more than its own latest estimates, according to Investec.

Last year the State’s bad bank redeemed the last of its €32bn startup costs, so the balance left when it is wound up will be returned to taxpayers and in effect goes to reduce the overall costs of the bank bailout.

At current projections, the Nama surplus combined with recoveries from AIB, Bank of Ireland and Permanent TSB will take the final bailout bill well below the €30bn mark.

Investec Ireland yesterday predicted the organisation will wind up posting a total surplus of €4.5bn – boosted by the rise in house prices.

Investec’s Philip O’Sullivan’s upgraded Nama projections have been consistently borne out to date.

The revised figures were contained in Investec’s latest quarterly update on the economy, which highlighted a 13pc year-on-year increase in house prices in April amid an ongoing “disconnect between housing output and demand”.

Last week Nama, which is working on the redevelopment of key areas of Dublin’s docklands with the likes of Ballymore Properties and Kennedy Wilson, revised its own final profit forecast to €3.5bn, a 17pc increase on its previous estimate of €3bn.

But Investec has adopted a far more optimistic stance, arguing the organisation stands to deliver a much greater surplus to the State by the time it closes its doors in 2020.

Hefty increase in house prices and Nama’s profitable business model underpins this view, fuelling debate over whether the agency has adopted a too conservative approach and will end up overshooting its own estimates.

Last year the agency raked in €2.56bn from selling loans and property, enabling the organisation to repay the final €2.6bn of its €30.2bn senior debt.

It remains a powerful player in the housing market funding the construction of tens of thousands of homes.

Investec Ireland’s chief economist Philip O’Sullivan, pointed out Nama stands to benefit from “further write-backs from its €1.4bn stock of provisions as property values climb” and highlighted its net interest margin – a measure of profitability – reached a “remarkable” 7pc in 2017.

But others in the market argue Nama has sold its most valuable real estate portfolios and is now dealing with secondary sites, and point out the agency has little to gain from underplaying its final profit targets.

Yet Nama retains control of pivotal sites in the capital, including the Irish Glass Bottle land in Ringsend, Dublin, which can accommodate 3,500 homes.

There is little prospect though of the agency continuing into the next decade with Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe insisting last week that he has no plans to extend Nama’s life beyond 2020, when it is due to be disbanded. That’s despite some calls for the agency to be restructured as a national housebuilding authority.

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Tesla plans to cut 9pc of workforce, says Musk

Elon Musk’s electric car maker Tesla is cutting about 9pc of its workforce, Mr Musk said yesterday, as it seeks to reduce costs without endangering the critical ramp up of production of its Model 3 sedan.

Tweeting pictures of an email he said had been leaked to media, Mr Musk said that the cuts were part of a simplification of Tesla’s management structure promised last month.

“As part of this effort, and the need to reduce costs and become profitable, we have made the difficult decision to let go of approximately 9pc of our colleagues across the company,” the email read.

“These cuts were entirely from our salaried population and no production associates were included, so this will not affect our ability to reach Model 3 production targets in the coming months.”

Tesla’s latest annual filing last December showed it had 37,543 full-time employees.

Up nearly 7pc earlier on Tuesday, shares of the company trimmed gains to stand 3.5pc higher at $344 by early afternoon.

Yesterday Mr Musk said Tesla’s Autopilot driver assistance system will get full self-driving features following a software upgrade in August.

Autopilot, a form of advanced cruise control, handles some driving tasks and warns those behind the wheel they are always responsible for the vehicle’s safe operation. But a spate of recent crashes has brought the system under regulatory scrutiny.

“To date, Autopilot resources have rightly focused entirely on safety. With V9, we will begin to enable full self-driving features,” Mr Musk said.

He said an autopilot issue during lane-merging is better in the current software and will be fully fixed in the August update.
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‘Do you have that fiver for me?’ – PayPal gets personal in new push

We’ve all been there – a tenner borrowed here, a fiver owed there. It can be hard to keep track when you owe it – and mortifying to have to ask for it back when you don’t.

Digital payments giant PayPal thinks it has the answer. It is throwing down the gauntlet by scrapping fees for euro transfers in Ireland.

With more than one million active accounts here, the money-transfer firm previously charged a fee of 3.4pc plus 35c on euro transfers.

PayPal is probably the best known for its use in online purchases, originally linked to eBay. A 2015 split from eBay helps explain the new peer-to-peer shift, and a focus on in-store payments thanks to its acquisition of iZettle.

Its cut in fees is targeted at inter-personal payments.

Research by PayPal found Irish adults are owed on average €152 through loans to family and friends.

According to the survey, this adds up to a hefty €575m owed to Irish consumers in small, often unpaid debts.

Paypal says it can counter costly and inefficient methods of payment that, it maintains, are causing animosity between the debtor and borrower.

Turning away from cash and moving towards faster mobile payments is the first step, according to PayPal’s vice-president of global operations EMEA Louise Phelan.

“Cash is still king in many people’s eyes, but it doesn’t deserve our loyalty. Cash comes with hidden costs and frustrations, both financial and personal,” she said.

“There seems to be an Irish taboo around asking to be paid back by friends and family. Almost a third of us prefer to do nothing and not ask to be paid back, leaving many people out of pocket.”

It’s a tough space though. Irish payments start-up Plynk was specifically targeted at the family and friends payments segment and, despite initial enthusiasm, this month took the decision to seek a liquidator.

And the battle for mobile payments may never be fully won, because lots of people remain very attached to cash, for a variety of reasons – even technical ones as the recent Visa outage that left people unable to make card payments showed.

“We believe cash will play a reduced role in the future of money, but it will not become obsolete. Ultimately, we think it is about choice. Consumers should be able to decide how they want to pay,” says Phelan.

“We have to show Irish consumers that there are better alternatives to cash.”

In the nationwide PayPal survey, over two-thirds of respondents (67pc) said they would use cash to repay a personal debt; with Irish consumers actually carrying more cash on them now (€57 on average) than they did two years ago (€39 average).

But while many consumers are not be able to let go of the notes and coins in their wallet, the drawbacks may not be apparent.

A third of survey participants paid fees for withdrawing money at an ATM, or for using telephone and online banking services, in order to facilitate the repayment of these small debts.

Depending on their bank, customers can be charged a standard flat fee of around 35c for ATM withdrawals using a debit card – or up to 1.5pc if they use a credit card.

Just under one-fifth of those who owe small amounts to family and friends say a lack of ready cash is the reason they don’t pay it back.

These outstanding debts between loved ones are having an impact on relationships, according to the survey, as a quarter of respondents state they will never lend money to that person again and 8pc admit to a falling out with the borrower.

Phelan said the PayPal app is efficient in terms of time and ease-of-use, and it can help save consumers money when they’re looking to repay a debt.

“In this day and age, we should expect more from our financial services. We have these incredibly powerful computers in our pockets, which should make life easier,” she said.

But will other financial institutions in the State follow suit?

“Our research shows that cash is still king in Ireland, and so far there haven’t been any contenders for its crown.

“I believe PayPal is best placed to take the fight to cash.”

Phelan leads PayPal’s global operation team in Dublin, Dundalk and Berlin.

When asked if any up-and-coming Irish fintechs had caught her eye, Phelan said she wouldn’t speculate on targets but PayPal is intent on leveraging its position “as the global leader in digital payments to make investments around the world in like-minded companies”.

And any such development would only strengthen PayPal’s business in Ireland, she said.

“These deals are about growth and expansion, not about cost cutting.

“They will not affect our commitment to Ireland, which remains an important strategic hub for our business,” she added.

PayPal recently acquired an “appealing partner” in small business commerce platform iZettle, which has a presence in Europe and Latin America.

“Small businesses are the bedrock of our business, and they increasingly want a one-stop solution that can help them compete online and offline,” she says.

“The acquisition of iZettle will significantly expand our in-store presence, and strengthen our platform to help millions of small businesses around the world grow and thrive in an omnichannel retail environment.”

eBay’s decision to drop PayPal following the separation, worked in her firm’s favour, she said.

“Under the terms of the operating agreement with eBay, we were not able to pursue some of their marketplace competitors. Now we will have the ability to pursue after July 2020,” she says.

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Irish Ferries to take further hit of €4m – €5m from ship delay

The announcement from Irish Ferries operator ICG of another delay to the delivery of the W.B. Yeats ship is set to hit earnings at the company by a further €4m – €5m, according to Davy analysts.

The group had already taken a hit of €2.5m in lost revenue from cancellations announced earlier this year.

On the back of this, analysts have reduced their financial year 2018 earnings estimate for ICG to €74m from €78.5m.

However the Stockbroker group added that while the news, which sees the holiday plans of up to 19,000 passengers thrown into disarray, is “disappointing to all concerned” it does not see the setback as material in the context of a 40 year useful life of the ship.

Read more: Ferry delivery delay costs ICG €2.5m
As a result of this Davy is leaving its financial year 2019 earnings forecast for ICG unchanged at €91m.

In April this year a further 2,500 Irish Ferries bookings were disrupted when Irish Ferries cancelled sailings between July 12 and 29. However 95pc of those choose to switch to Irish Ferries’ other cruise ferry, the Oscar Wilde.

Following the latest disruption, all Dublin-Cherbourg sailings up to September 13 have been cancelled. The ship is now set to debut this autumn on its Dublin-Holyhead route.

FSG — Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft & Co. KG — the German ship builder commissioned to deliver the new vessel said that the setbacks are “due to delays in the delivery of interior components for public areas and on the electrical system installation in the hull and deckhouse”.

Customers affected by the cancellations are being offered €150 voucher—however it can only be used to Ireland-France routes “next year” and not the 2018 season.

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Malin hits a new all-time low with State down 30pc

Shares in State-backed Malin hit an all-time low yesterday to leave taxpayers nursing a loss of 30pc on the initial investment.

Malin’s shares lost 3.45pc in trading yesterday to close at €7, and at one stage plunged below €7 for the first time to hit €6.60.

The State’s Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) invested €50m in Malin at the time of its IPO in 2015, at an IPO price of €10 per share.

The company has raised money in a number of subsequent share placings since then, and ISIF has declined to follow its money in at least one, which took place in May 2017.

Last month, Malin CEO Adrian Howd sold almost €300,000 of shares in the company, which was established to invest in innovative life sciences companies.

One its major problems has been the performance of Novan, a flagship initial investment whose share price collapsed after poor results in clinical trials of its lead product, designed for the treatment of severe acne.

With just €14m in cash left on its balance sheet at the end of last year, raising the prospect that the company may not have as much funding as it would like for follow-on investments, Malin raised almost €30m from investors at €8.88 a share in January.

Writing to investors in March, Dr Howd said he was hopeful the company’s balance sheet would be “further augmented by inflows in the year ahead”.

The company also said at that time that it was talking to the European Investment Bank, a long-term lender owned by the EU member states, about “a possible amendment of the terms of our debt facility to better align its structure with our business needs”.

Dr Howd told shareholders the company’s share-price performance in the second half of 2017 was “particularly poor”.

“A key focus of mine is to work with the management team to close the gap between intrinsic value and share price,” he said.

Dr Howd was Malin boss at the time of its €330m IPO in 2015. He later moved to the role of chief investment officer and was replaced by former Elan chief executive Kelly Martin, a founder of the business. Dr Howd reassumed the role of CEO last October after Mr Martin exited, with a severance package of €3.2m in cash.

Another of the key investors in Malin, alongside ISIF, is Woodford Investment Management, run by high-profile London hedge fund manager Neil Woodford. It did not comment yesterday on whether it was a seller. ISIF does not comment on its investments.

Since becoming CEO, Dr Howd has closed the company’s office in the US and said he expects operating spend to be roughly a third lower in 2018, at €12m.

“I have re-positioned the business and its resources on the assets with the greatest source of actionable upside and value for our shareholders,” Dr Howd said earlier this year.

“I also implemented a restructuring of our business to align the infrastructure with the resources required for the current phase of the journey,” he said in the company’s annual report.

ISIF has said its decision to invest in Malin achieved significant commitments from the company to invest in Ireland.

“These commitments would not have been achieved by private-sector investors and are an example of ISIF’s ability to act as a catalyst for attracting investment into Ireland.”

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Bank of Ireland overhaul bill soars to €1.4bn

Bank of Ireland will pump an extra €500m into an annual “transformation programme” aimed at improving its business systems and overhauling its software platform as the lender attempts to reduce costs and drive efficiencies over the next three years.

The additional cash brings the total investment outlay from 2016-2021 to €1.4bn.

According to a much anticipated strategy plan, released this morning by the bank, the massive €900m reform plan to the IT platform, revealed in 2016 and dubbed Project Omega – but now referred to as the ‘core banking systems’ investment – will require a further €250m, taking the total cost to €1.15bn.

In a statement Bank of Ireland’s new chief executive Francesca McDonagh, said the group was in a “strong financial position” after a “period of restructuring”.

The ambitious growth plans are intended to set the group’s course over the next three, cast off the legacy of the crash and propel the bank into a robust expansion phase.

It has set a target of 20pc growth in its loan book by 2021 and pledged to cut the cost base by €1.7bn over that period.

In setting out her vision for the group, Ms McDonagh, who took over the reins from her predecessor, Richie Boucher, in October, emphasised the bank’s determination “to be the national champion bank in Ireland, with UK and selective international diversification.” That is our “strategic ambition” she said.

Yet while the bank is targeting a 10pc return on tangible equity for investors – a key barometer of profitability – there was little guidance on dividends.

The bank said it intends “over time” to “build towards a payout ratio of around 50pc of sustainable earnings”. But highlighted the money may be diverted elsewhere. “To the extent the Group has excess capital, other means of capital distribution will be considered.”

The bank re-affirmed its commitment to the UK market and predicted income from business banking will account for at least a quarter of the group’s total income by 2021.

However the bank is predicting low-level margin uplift over the same timeframe.

It said its net interest margin – the difference between what a bank earns and what it charges savers – will remain “broadly in line with exit 2017 level of 2.24pc”.

The bank’s capital buffers or core equity tier 1 ratio will be kept “in excess” of 13pc over the next three and half years.

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Dollar rise as Trump and Kim sign ‘comprehensive’ document at landmark summit

The dollar hovered near 3-week highs on Tuesday and Asian shares gained as US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un signed a ‘comprehensive’ deal at a historic summit aimed at the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

Trump said the process of denuclearisation would happen “very, very quickly”, adding he had formed a “special bond” with Kim and the relationship with North Korea would be very different.

“The letter that we’re signing is very comprehensive and I think both sides are going to be very impressed with the result,” Trump said after a “really very positive” summit meeting in Singapore.

“A lot of goodwill went into this, a lot of work, a lot of preparation.”

Both leaders are set to hold a press conference later.

The dollar rose against the safe-haven yen, while the Korean won pared gains to stay near a recent two-week trough. Spreadbetters pointed to a firm start for Europe while E-Minis for the S&P 500 also gained 0.1pc.

Kim had earlier said the meeting was “a good prelude to peace”, just months after the two leaders traded insults and tensions spiralled in the region over the reclusive regime’s nuclear programmes.

Yet, there was some unease among investors about the outcome of the talks given the tense relations between the two nations. The combatants of the 1950-53 Korean War are technically still at war, as the conflict, in which millions of people died, was concluded only with a truce.

In Asian equity markets, trading was volatile with Japan’s Nikkei paring early gains to close 0.3pc higher after earlier rising as much as 0.9pc.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan seesawed between positive and negative territory, and was last up 0.15p.

South Korean shares were a tad weaker while Chinese shares were buoyant after starting in the red.

The blue-chip CSI 300 index jumped about 1.3pc.

“The peace on the Korean peninsula could deliver significant benefits to both North and South Korea, including potentially a re-rating for South Korean stocks,” analysts at Singapore’s DBS said in a note.

“The landmark summit meeting should help to remove a major tail risk for the region’s markets and economies,” they added.

“However, it would be prudent to contain excessive optimism, given the enormous gulf between the two Koreas and the costs of reunification.”

Many analysts were uncertain about the overall impact on global economies and markets from the peace talks, with some pointing to a growing risk of an international trade war as a much bigger headwind to world growth.

Just this past weekend, Trump upset the G7’s efforts to show a united front, choosing to back out of a previous joint communique. The action drew criticism from Germany and France, and Trump called Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “very dishonest and weak.”

However, “markets are generally shrugging off the G7 trainwreck,” said Ray Attrill, head of forex strategy at National Australia Bank.

Instead, they are looking ahead to a busy week.

Tuesday’s North Korea summit will be followed by policy meetings of the US Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank as well as a Brexit bill vote in the British parliament.

The dollar was well bid on Tuesday, up 0.2pc against a basket of major currencies.

The US Federal Reserve is virtually guaranteed to raise interest rates this week while investors are focused on the US monetary policy outlook.

On the safe haven yen, the dollar jumped to a three-week top of 110.49 in early deals. It was last at 110.37.

Helping calm markets were comments from Italy’s new coalition government that it had no intention of leaving the euro zone and planned to cut debt.

The euro stepped back from a three-week high of $1.1840 to be last down 0.2pc at $1.1764.

In commodities, US crude was rose 10 cents to $66.20 per barrel, while Brent climbed 4 cents to $76.49.

Spot gold slipped 0.2pc to $1,297.12 an ounce.

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Three investment mistakes to avoid when building your portfolio

Even the world’s most successful investors admit they sometimes get it wrong. In a recent Time Money article, John Bogle, founder and former CEO of the US investment firm, The Vanguard Group, claimed that one of his biggest mistakes was buying individual stocks for about a dozen years in the 50s and 60s, before he realised he wasn’t getting anywhere.

Investing is far from an exact science – it can be easy to make mistakes, particularly as many investment decisions are often subjectively based on how investors hope or believe a company or fund will perform in future.

In building up their investment portfolios, and in particular their equity portfolios, there are three common investing mistakes which could potentially impact an investor’s returns:

Letting your emotions dictate decisions

Market volatility can be a common source of uneasiness and can drive investors to consider exiting an investment or stock. However, panic-selling can mean you crystallise paper losses and miss out on any potential recovery. Adapting a long-term perspective will help you avoid knee-jerk reactions when markets are volatile. One way to do this might be to look at your portfolio performance less often.

By buying and holding your investments for a period of at least five years (though preferably longer), you may improve your probability of experiencing peak performance periods instead of trying to time the market.

There are other emotions which can also prompt you to make investment mistakes.

For example, a long bull run may make investors over-confident, particularly if their portfolio has made significant gains.

When your confidence starts to grow, keep in mind that past performance should never be seen as a guide to the future, and that market conditions can change overnight.

Surges in confidence may cause you to take unnecessary risks, so remember to consider your approach to risk when you first started investing. Your portfolio may need rebalancing over time as your asset allocation can change because of the way your investments perform.

For example, if you began with 15pc of your portfolio in shares and they have performed well in recent years, you might find they now account for a much greater proportion of your portfolio.

You might therefore decide to reallocate some of your money to other assets to help spread risk.

Simply rebalancing back to the percentages you started with means selling those assets which have done most well and buying those which have done less well.

It reinforces a good ‘sell high and buy lower’ behaviour while not encouraging market timing or pulling all money out of the portfolio.

Trying to time the market

Many are familiar with the stock market adage to buy low and sell high – however, trying to time the market is not always straightforward.

No-one is able to fully decipher the direction markets will move in future and withdrawing at the wrong time could result in the loss of potential future returns.

If you’re worried about markets taking a sudden dip just after you’ve invested a lump sum, investing regularly can help smooth out market volatility. When you incrementally invest money monthly, you buy more shares when prices are low – and fewer when prices are high, effectively meaning you pay the average price over a fixed period. As you’ve committed to investing regardless of market conditions, this can help remove some of the emotion from your investment decisions.

Failing to diversify

Focusing excessively on one particular asset class, sector or geographical area could mean that if any of these fall in value, it may have a disproportionate effect on the value of your portfolio.

It’s therefore important to ensure your investments are properly diversified. This lessens the potential for losses, as it’s unlikely – although not impossible – that all the main asset classes will lose value at the same time.

Having exposure to a wide range of companies, industries and types of market from different regions around the world means that even if a few of your investments underperform, hopefully some of your other holdings may rise in value, offsetting some or all of your losses.

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