Property funds reap rewards with near €3bn profits in just three years

Seen & Heard: Electricity blackout warning, payments for pubs and PCH cyberattack

Property funds made almost €3 billion in profits in the first three years following their introduction, according to the Business Post. It said the operating profits of Irish Real Estate Funds totalled €1.16 billion in 2019 alone, bringing total combined profits to €2.93 billion for the period since 2017. The Government earlier this month moved to limit the ability of such funds to buy homes in bulk in certain cases. Such funds were introduced in 2017 in an attempt to bring groups of investors, who were holding Irish property assets in funds designed to reduce their tax bills, into the tax net.

Electricity shortages

The Business Post reported that the number of alerts warning of possible electricity shortages on the national grid has risen dramatically, with fears the Republic is showing the signs of a power system at risk of blackouts. The immediate electricity shortfall is being driven by two unscheduled outages at power stations in Huntstown in Dublin and Whitegate in Cork. It is being exacerbated, however, during periods of low wind and by the retirement of peat power stations in the midlands, as well as a number of generators carrying out scheduled maintenance, which had been delayed due to Covid-19.

PCH cyberattack

PCH, the Irish manufacturing and supply giant founded by Liam Casey, had its data published on the darknet recently after refusing to pay a ransom to the same group accused of targeting the Health Service Executive, according to the Business Post. The data was published by the Conti hacking group, with PCH confirming the ransomware attack but saying no personal information relating to consumers was released.

Waste deal

A fund controlled by Macquarie, the Australian investment bank, is set to buy the Republic's largest waste company, Beauparc Utilities, valuing the group at close to €1 billion, the Sunday Times has reported. It says the sale will create a big windfall for its founder, Eamon Waters, and the US private equity firm Blackstone. Beauparc became the country's biggest waste company when it acquired Greenstar in 2016. It has since expanded into a number of other markets. The group also operates in the electricity and waste business through the Panda brand.


Pubs and restaurant supports

The government intends to make so-called "bullet payments" of up to €30,000 to pubs and restaurants that reopen over the coming months to help boost their viability and as compensation for enduring a longer shutdown, the Sunday Times has reported. Tánaiste Leo Varadkar on Friday said that bars and restaurants would not be allowed to reopen for indoor dining until July 7th and as a consequence would be entitled to the restart grants. The payments will not be available to hotels.

Bank of Ireland appointment

Bank of Ireland has appointed senior executive Áine McCleary as business director for "the KBC opportunity", as it looks to finalise a deal with the outgoing financial institution. Ms McCleary's appointment is seen as a statement of intent by the bank to finalise the acquisition as early as possible, according to the Sunday Times. Bank of Ireland applied for regulatory approval for the KBC takeover last month to the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission.

Aer Lingus cutbacks

Older staff will bear the brunt of new cutbacks at Aer Lingus, says the Sunday Independents, with legacy pay scales to be cut and roster duty allowances slashed. Staff are also expected to face a pay freeze of up to five years. The airline lost €103 million in the first quarter due to the Covid crisis, on top of a €361 million loss in 2020.