Category: Archive

Business Briefs Going cheap: budget airlines draw interest

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Stephen McKinley

‘roflot, the largest Russian air passenger carrier, held talks with the Irish unit of struggling budget airline Virgin Express last week. The Russian company says that it is interested in finding a base in Western Europe, and stressed the longstanding aviation links between the two countries. Four other buyers also expressed interest in the unit.

Meanwhile, British Airways is hoping to sell its budget air service, Go, by mid-February. The price has declined in the last few months to the bargain price of just £100-£150 million stg. (about $170 million). As with Virgin Express, five potential buyers have shown interest.

Horn of Plenty?

Now that he’s cashed in 40,000 shares in Iona Technologies, Chief Executive Chris Horn could make a downpayment on one of those cheap airlines. At $62.19 per share, Horn made about $2.5 million. He still holds 2.2 million shares in the Dublin-based company — that’s $130 million, a 10 percent stake.

Looking East

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Baltimore technologies, the Internet security specialists, have signed an initial understanding with the Hong Kong Post, to create a mobile certification authority in Asia. It’s step one in creating secure online transactions via mobile phones, such as bill payment, for customers in Hong Kong and elsewhere.

Beef blues

Mad Cow disease has had a marked effect on beef consumption already, according to an Irish Times/MRBI poll. Over 38 percent have reduced their consumption of beef, with the largest drop in Dublin, with 49 percent of consumers saying they were staying away from the roast. Meanwhile, the Irish Farmers Association has attacked meat factories who have imported cheap (BSE-free, one hopes) German beef.

Fifty new jobs in Wicklow . . .

While there were further layoffs last week, 50 new jobs were created at Powerscourt, Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow. Salesforce.com from California has opened its European headquarters at the site of the former stately home, headed by former Oracle boss John Appleby. Salesforce allows small to medium-sized sales and marketing companies to manage, share and monitor their sales teams’ information online.

. . . more jobs up North

Sir Reg Empey, Northern Irish minister for enterprise, trade and investment, had the pleasure of announcing 143 new jobs created in Belfast by the Taiwanese computer company Acer. The company sees its main European base as being Belfast, and the 143 jobs will be in a multi-lingual call center. Acer’s initial investment is $2.5 million.

Soup kitchen?

Campbell Soup Company is collecting brand names this week. "Oxo" in the UK and Ireland, "McDonnells" in Ireland, "Heisse Tasse" in Germany, "Royco" in France, are all instant soup and sauce brands that Unilever is selling on to Campbell’s.

Staying with food, Heinz is expected to announce the purchase of the pickles business side of debt-ridden food company Vlasic, which may also file for bankruptcy. Heinz will pay about $200 million for the pickles and for Open Pit barbecue sauce. Vlasic pickles has a 34 percent share of the U.S. market, so the deal is no small gherkin.

Eircom’s happy this week

Eircom, the telecommunications group, has become the sole site sponsors of the new portal and search engine, Alta Vista Ireland, said to be the most comprehensive search tool for Irish-specific topics on the web. Immediately, Eircom’s shares rose 4 pennies on the market to $2.60.

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