IN THE PAPERS
In The Papers 6 February
Dell staff get improved layoff package | Global Voice in financial restructuring
The Irish Times reports that Dell has announced an improved redundancy package for the 1,900 workers due to be laid off in Limerick. Under the revised package, described by one worker as a "major climbdown", staff will receive six weeks' pay for every year of service, capped at 104 weeks, compared to the previous offer of a cap of 52 weeks. Workers also now have the option of having their shift allowance included in their package or of taking an alternative option of having six months of health and life insurance paid for by the firm.
The paper also says that Ericsson Ireland is to lay off 300 workers in Dublin, as reported by ENN on Thursday.
The same paper says an internet squatter is delaying the settlement of a legal row between developer Sean Dunne and hotelier John Brennan over the rights to a series of domain names. Dunne's company, MJBCH, recently settled a High Court action with Brennan's Cloud Nine Management and Beechside Co over the ownership of D4Hotels.com and a number of other domains. The settlement was put back in the High Court's commercial division earlier this week as Brennan's companies had a technical issue in relation to the settlement. It is understood that Brennan's businesses no longer own one of the domain names, Ballsbridgeinns.com, which was registered last year by a so-called 'internet squatter'.
The paper also reports that Singapore-quoted telco Global Voice, which was founded by Noel Meaney and an Irish management team, has almost wiped out its debt in a USD45 million financial restructuring. US telecoms investment firm Columbia Capital has also taken a 15 percent stake in the company, with the possibility of increasing its stake later. "This transforms the company as it wipes out a huge amount of debt -- up to USD50 million -- in one swoop," said Meaney. "We also don't have any interest payments or repayments to service."
The same paper says that Lucent Technologies International Sales, an Irish subsidiary of US telecoms equipment maker Lucent, reported a pre-tax profit of USD99 million in the 15 months to the end of 2007, but the company is likely to be put into voluntary liquidation this year. The move to "decommission" the company and transfer its business activities to other units comes on the back of the parent firm's December 2006 merger with French company Alcatel. The business, assets, liabilities and staff of the firm were transferred to Alcatel Lucent Ireland on 1 January this year.
The paper also notes that beleaguered e-payments firm Payzone is believed to be seeking 27 compulsory redundancies among its 93 workers at its group support office in Sandyford, Dublin. Staff were informed of the move at a meeting on Wednesday.
The same paper says that Caribbean mobile operator Digicel has achieved its target of 450 voluntary redundancies across its operations. The move will cost it about USD3 million and the reduction in staff numbers includes about 50 expats whose contracts were not renewed. Digicel vice-chairman Leslie Buckley said the business was in good shape financially and dismissed market rumours that the cull was prompted by its high debt levels.
The Irish Examiner reports that tech firms are avoiding the credit crunch as the sector raised EUR242.9 million in venture capital in 2008, up 7.5 percent on the previous year and up 26 percent on 2006. The Irish Venture Capital Association's VenturePulse survey found that in 2008 the number of companies that raised funds was 93, compared to 82 in 2007 and 34 in 2006. IVCA chairman Joe Concannon said that Irish venture capital funds had some EUR600 million available for investment. "Despite the global credit crunch, the amount of funds raised by Irish companies is at its highest level since 2002," he said.
The same paper notes that some Eurovision hopefuls have been uploading their songs to YouTube, in an effort to gain grassroots support in advance of the competition to select a song to represent Ireland at this year's Song Contest. More than 10,000 people have viewed the videos of five acts on the video-sharing site.
The paper also notes the launch of a new product aimed at kids called 'Text & Learn'. The device, made by LeapFrog, is geared toward preschoolers who are just learning to spell and includes games that focus on spelling and basic computer skills. It features a full QWERTY keyboard, large LCD screen and the ability to send theoretical text messages to a puppy character.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Japanese consumer electronics firm Sharp swung to a net loss in its fiscal third quarter and warned it now expects to post its first full-year net loss since 1950. For the October-to-December quarter, Sharp recorded a net loss of JPY65.8 billion (USD721.2 million) compared to a net profit of JPY29.6 billion a year earlier. The company also plans to cut 1,500 non-full-time jobs and close down some production lines at two LCD manufacturing plants in Japan.
The paper also notes that German chipmaker Infineon Technologies has posted a narrower first-quarter net loss on declining sales. The company reported a net loss of EUR404 million for the quarter ending 31 December, compared with a loss of EUR529 million a year earlier. Revenue fell 24 percent to EUR830 million.
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