Bank of America’s MBNA business in Carrick-on-Shannon has caught the eye of Richard Branson as a potential acquisition by his operation Virgin Money, according to reports today. Bank of America announced earlier this month it was withdrawing its business in Ireland and the UK, arousing fears for the 1,000 people employed at its offices in Carrick-on-Shannon in Leitrim. IDA Ireland is identifying potential bidders for the Carrick-on-Shannon business, but must await a decision from Bank of America on what it plans to do with it, ie whether it will be sold as a going concern or whether it will wind down or sell its $19 billion loan book. Virgin Money already has a long relationship with MBNA,…

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Hundreds of jobs may be in jeopardy as credit card company MBNA signals its exit from the UK and Ireland. Yesterday afternoon, the parent firm of MBNA credit card company, Bank of America, announced it was withdrawing its business in Ireland and the UK. Currently, the group employs 1,000 people at its offices in Carrick-on-Shannon in Leitrim. There is some hope this morning that a buyer may be found for the business and the jobs saved. IDA Ireland has committed to finding a buyer for the company. It is understood Bank of Ireland has also offered its assistance to help the company sell the business and keep the jobs in…

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New SME service to give company directors train

SpenglerFox has launched a new service to give support and training to company directors and senior management teams at Irish-based SMEs and help companies keep apace with marketplace demands. SpenglerFox, which is part of Grafton Employment Group, announced the service today as a resource for senior management teams to make sure equipped to meet the heightened expectations and demands of the global marketplace. Aspects of the service include board performance reviews, corporate governance audit, board remuneration advisory and board paper templates. Jacques de Jager, a financial services professional with over 20 years’ experience in international banking, will lead the service. He will be supported by entrepreneur and venture capitalist Shimi…

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michael carey

Valeo Foods has announced that it has reached agreement to acquire Jacob Fruitfield Food Group for an undisclosed amount. The deal is subject to regulatory approval. Set up 2010, Valeo is made up of a growing portfolio of Irish consumer brands, including Batchelors, Odlums, Shamrock, Sqeez, Roma, Erin, Amigo, Lustre and Picnic. The company also offers route-to-market services for several international consumer brands. Jacob Fruitfield includes Fruitfield Foods, which was bought from Nestl� in 2002, and Irish Biscuits, which was purchased from Groupe Danone in 2004. Among its consumer brands are Jacob’s biscuits (Fig Rolls, Kimberley, Mikado and Coconut Creams), Chef sauces, Fruitfield jams and marmalades and Silvermints and Scots…

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emmanuel dowdall

IDA Ireland’s Emmanuel Dowdall leads the team that has made Ireland the ‘internet capital of Europe’ via wins like Google, Facebook and Zynga. There was a telling moment at the recent opening of Zynga’s flagship new operation in Dublin’s Ballsbridge, as the social gaming company’s chief operations officer (COO) Marcus Segal outlined his reasons for coming to Ireland. Zynga employs 55 people in the country and this could grow to beyond 100 in the coming months. “The IDA proved invaluable in our efforts. They came to us early and often,” explained Segal. “They had already reached out to us, which was impressive, and despite others’ knocking on our door we…

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In the first six months of 2011, the Government liquidated €10bn worth of National Pension Reserve Fund assets in order to contribute money to the EU/IMF bailout package. Including this €10bn set aside for the support programme, the total fund size at the end of June was €20.8bn. This also comprises of the discretionary fund and directed portfolio, as well as bank investments of €5.5bn. The discretionary fund has now been reduced in size to €5.3bn as a result of the liquidation of assets, according to the quarterly portfolio and performance update published today. Including shares held in Bank of Ireland and AIB, the directed portfolio is worth €15.5bn.

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Irish oil and gas exploration company Tullow Oil has started trading stock on the Ghana Stock Exchange today. Shares with a market capitalisation of about 28.18bn Ghana cedis commenced trading at 11am. The stock listed at 31 cedis had already climbed to 31.05 in the first four minutes of trading. The listing more than doubles the entire market capitalisation of the Ghana Stock Exchange and makes it one of the largest exchanges in sub-Saharan Africa, outside of South Africa and Nigeria. “This is an historic day for Tullow Oil as our shares begin trading in Ghana for the first time. I am delighted by the success of our offer and…

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darcy-gabriel-b-na-mona

In the year to March 2011, Bord na Móna recorded profits after tax of €12.9m, up 23pc from last year’s figure of €10.5m. The Irish utility said its turnover for the year was flat at €382.1m, while earnings before tax rose by 12.6pc to €72.7m. This marks the fifth year-in-a-row that earnings growth has increased. Following the “strong annual results” the company paid a dividend of €3.5m to shareholders. Bord na Móna said the strong results came despite the challenging economic environment and a difficult year for its fuel business. Briquette sales volumes were down 17pc as more people turned to privately harvested turf and wood products. Coal volumes also…

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UCD spin-out company Equinome has launched a genetic test that can identify individual thoroughbred horses with the best potential for racecourse success. The company said the Equinome Elite Performance Test can help thoroughbred horse owners and breeders increase their chances of successfully identifying foals and yearlings most likely to perform at the highest level. The test uses state-of-the-art genomics technologies to examine panels of DNA variants that have been identified as critical to racing performance. Different sets of genes are used to distinguish between elite performers and poor performers, depending on whether the individual horse is suited to short, middle or long-distance races. According to the company, this information provides…

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Award-winning university spin-out Celtic Catalysts boasts a Nobel Prize-winning chairman, and its technologies have caught the eye of the big pharma players, but, says founding CEO Dr. Brian Kelly, it wants to remain an Irish company. He spoke to Jim Aughney. Life sciences company Celtic Catalysts has developed a ground-breaking chemistry that enables its end-user clients in the pharmaceutical, biotech and fine chemicals industries to realize significant manufacturing cost savings. The innovative venture capital-backed company and its founders have caught the eye of the experts in recent years, snatching some awards that include the Thistle Biotech International Rising Star Award (2008), the NovaUCD Innovation Award (2008) and the Shell LiveWire…

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