Syndicated News Archives - Page 5 of 257 - Manning & Co.

Pfizer facing $100m Brexit bill as it grapples with no-deal fallout

European firms aren’t alone in their Brexit pain – Pfizer, the US-based drug behemoth, says its costs for dealing with the upcoming split will reach $100m (€86.4m).

The UK’s looming rupture with the EU threatens to slow goods at borders and force firms to duplicate regulatory efforts. Pfizer said its costs stem from transferring product testing and licences to other countries, changing clinical-trial procedures, and other preventive measures.

It is working “to meet EU legal requirements after the UK is no longer a member state, especially in the regulatory, manufacturing and supply-chain areas”, according to a filing last month where it cited the cost estimate.

Pfizer – which got about 2pc of its $53bn in 2017 revenue from the UK – highlights the pharmaceutical industry’s dilemma as it braces for a rocky, no-deal Brexit. Uncertainty has forced companies including AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline and Merck to prepare for a worst-case scenario.

Pharma companies have long relied on their ability to move people and goods in and out of countries, and Britain’s departure could complicate many aspects. The UK Department of Health last month told drugmakers to build six-week stockpiles of their products in preparation for potential delays.

Much of the industry had already begun hoarding medicines or investing in new facilities to release drugs. AstraZeneca, which has committed to setting aside a three-month supply of its products, said it can’t raise inventories of one of its cancer drugs because its production facilities are already at full capacity.

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Manufacturing output hits seven month high

Manufacturing output has risen to a seven month high driven by sharp increases in output and new orders.

The headline PMI in August was 57.5, from 56.3 in July. Any reading over 50 is deemed growth.

New order growth quickened to the fastest in the year so far, with strong demand reported from both domestic and export markets, according to the latest Manufacturing Purchasers Managers Index (PMI) from specialist bank Investec.

The rate of expansion in new export orders was marked and the highest in three months with panellists citing the UK, the Eurozone and the Middle East as sources of new work.

As a result of the strong order-book growth, there were further increases in the backlogs of work, quantity of purchases, and employment indices. The current sequence of job creation in the manufacturing sector has now extended to 23 months.

However the index found that margins remain under some pressure, with input costs showing another sharp increase in August, although the latest increase was the slowest in ten months.

Panellists reported higher costs for a range of raw materials including metals and timber.

Although firms were able to defray at least a portion of this cost inflation by raising output prices, a seventh successive decline in the profitability index was recorded.
Looking forward the forward-looking future output index remains “very elevated” and reached a three-month high in August. Over 50pc of respondents expect a rise in production over the coming 12 months, while just 4pc anticipate a decline.

“With a positive economic backdrop both in Ireland and abroad, we think this optimism is well-founded,” Philip O’Sullivan, economist with Investec, said.

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Motor group to create 50 jobs with €15m investment in dealership cluster

Cork-based motor group Johnson & Perrott is to open the first phase of a €15m dealership cluster at Bishopstown in Cork today.

The overall project will deliver 50 jobs.

“Our dealership in Bishopstown is the largest purpose-built new facility for Jaguar and Land Rover in the country and is a key step in positioning Johnson & Perrott as a leader in motor retailing for Cork city and county,” Mark Whittaker, CEO of the group, said. He added that the investment “represents a huge vote of confidence in the health of the motor industry”.

The opening of the showrooms follows pre-tax profits at the motor group last year increasing by 33pc to €6.6m.

Accounts filed by Johnson & Perrott show that the group enjoyed the increase in profits as revenues decreased by 2.6pc, going from €88.5m to €86.18m in the 12 months to the end of December last.

The firm paid a dividend of €675,000 last year, following a dividend payout of €645,750 in 2016.

The company is one of the best-known family businesses in Cork and has a long association with transportation in Ireland, dating back to the coach-building era in 1810.

The group last year achieved an increase in pre-tax profits only after recording a profit of €2.78m on the sale of investment properties. The accounts state that the group intends to open a second dealership at the cluster in Bishopstown in December.

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How banks are making it easier to get rid of unwanted costly subscriptions

Banks have moved to make it easier for consumers to cancel unwanted subscriptions.

The changes are likely to come as a huge relief as many companies make it very difficult for customers who have signed up for services, such as gym memberships and TV and online streaming services, to get out of their contract.

Research in the UK has shown that unwanted subscriptions are costing people an average of €50 a month because they are too difficult to cancel.

Such subscriptions are an arrangement to receive something, typically a publication or an online service, regularly by paying in advance.

However, commentators say that some companies deliberately make it impossible to get out of the contracts.

Others refuse cancellations and request that they are given more notice, often seeking six months’ advance warning.

Some firms force consumers to contact them through their websites, providing no telephone number, then fail to reply to the online messages.

Banks have previously not let customers cancel the contracts and would take instructions only from the provider that set up the subscription.

Dermott Jewell, policy adviser with the Consumers’ Association of Ireland lobby group, said: “The amount of effort any individual has to go through to stop a subscription is ludicrous. People end up giving up and leaving the subscription in place.”

He said that subscriptions were very easy to sign up to but could be difficult for consumers to get out of later.

Daragh Cassidy, of price comparison site, said customers could cancel a direct debit by giving advance notice, usually in writing, to their bank and their service provider. Most providers require around a month’s notice. However, banks now allow customers to easily cancel direct debits themselves immediately through their internet banking platforms.

Mr Cassidy said: “While the advice is always to let your provider know you’re cancelling so they don’t keep billing you, this can be handy when a provider has been slow to respond to a customer’s initial cancellation request.”

AIB said it had streamlined its cancellation service for what it called recurring transactions associated with debit or credit cards. It can now take instructions directly from customers and stop the transactions. “Previously, customers had to provide evidence that they had attempted to cancel a recurring transaction directly with the merchant but were continuing to be charged,” the bank said. This facility is available on credit and debit cards but not for wider current account direct debits.

Bank of Ireland said: “With regard to current accounts, recurring payments instigated by merchants would be direct debits, and the customer has the ability to cancel these through the mobile app.”

Ulster Bank said payments linked to cards could be cancelled directly with the bank and account-linked direct debits could be cancelled online through Anytime Banking.

A Permanent TSB spokesperson said: “We can cancel recurring payments if the customer tells us they have tried to do so and had no success.” This applies to both credit and debit card payments.

KBC Bank said it was looking into a way to take instructions from customers to stop card subscriptions.

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Large numbers of SMEs yet to prepare for payroll shake-up

Large numbers of smaller firms have admitted they are not prepared for changes in how payroll systems interact with Revenue that are due to come into force in January.

An overhaul of the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) system is due to come into effect in five months.

But 40pc of firms are not prepared for the changes, according to a survey of 200 firms which was commissioned by Big Red Cloud, a firm that supplies payroll software.

A majority of the firms surveyed said they were short of detail on how the new PAYE system will work.

From January, the new system will see employers submitting payroll data on a regular basis.

This represents a fundamental shift from the present system where detailed payroll data is submitted annually in a P35 form.

Big Red Cloud said Revenue’s changes are warranted, given the fact that the existing PAYE system had been introduced in 1960, at a time when a job was typically for life and payroll was a manual process.

Every aspect of how an employer fulfils their PAYE reporting obligations will change to a real-time electronic submission of the data.
Big Red Cloud said that covers everything from commencing employment, statutory deductions (PAYE/PRSI/USC), as well as the cessation of employment.

Well-known forms, such as the P45, P46, P30, P60 and P35, will disappear.

The survey found that 66pc of small and medium-sized firms are “short on detail” on the PAYE system overhaul.

Just 5pc are “completely unaware” of the changes.

But 40pc of SMEs said they are “not prepared at all” for the January 1 modernisation deadline.

And just 15pc say they are confident they will be ready.

Big Red Cloud CEO Marc O’Dwyer said the Revenue changes represent a huge overhaul of the PAYE system, the first in 58 years.

“As the year progresses, it is becoming increasingly apparent to us that, not only are many businesses not ready, many are simply unaware and/or uninformed of the changes and what they will mean for their business,” he said.

He added it was important that owner/managers take the necessary steps over the next few months to ensure their business is Revenue-compliant by January.

Revenue Commissioners chairman Niall Cody said recently the modernising of the system and move to real-time PAYE “represents an important step in the process of continuous improvement in service, compliance and efficiency in our administration of the tax system”.

He said that improvements and efficiencies will be the end-goal but “businesses, particularly those at the smaller end of the scale, will need some help to get there

European shares slip on China weakness

European shares fell back yesterday as weakness in Chinese markets and worries over a trade dispute between the United States and China eclipsed optimism that a Nafta deal could be struck by today’s deadline.

The pan-European STOXX 600 ended the session down 0.3pc, while Germany’s DAX, which is sensitive to China due to its prominence as a German export market, dropped 0.5pc.

Chinese stocks fell after a Reuters poll showed activity in the factory sector was likely to have slowed for the third straight month in August amid uncertainty over an escalating trade war with the United States.

In Europe, trade-sensitive mining stocks tumbled 0.8pc.

“It’s a balancing act with, on the one hand, relatively positive momentum behind Nafta, but when the focus turns to China and trade war it doesn’t seem like an end is in sight because any escalation plays to Trump’s rhetoric of how he’s protecting US prosperity and jobs,” said Gary Waite, portfolio manager at Walker Crips Investment Management.

Though cars were also off earlier in the session, a concessionary tone from European Trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom on car tariffs helped lift the sector, which closed flat.

Earnings reports caused some sharp moves in individual stocks.

Shares in Europe’s largest property company Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield fell 4.3pc even though the company reported a boost to profits from its acquisition of an Australian shopping centre giant.

UK commercial property firm Intu fell 3.4pc after Morgan Stanley cut the stock to underweight from equal-weight, and peer Hammerson fell 5pc. Klepierre lost 3.3pc after a Morgan Stanley downgrade.

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US tech firm leaves Ireland for US after Trump tax cuts

Internet domain registry business Afilias has moved its headquarters out of Dublin to the US, citing recent US tax changes as a reason for the move.

It’s a sign that Donald Trump’s efforts to attract business home are having an impact.

“We’ve long had a strong US presence,” said CEO Hal Lubsen. “More of the company’s shares are now owned by Americans, and our executive group is increasingly becoming American.

“However,” he added, “nothing really changes for our customers and our vendors. Afilias continues to be a global registry services provider; our operations will not be affected.

As Afilias’s US market heats up, the company anticipates increased hiring and investment in the US. Otherwise, no new paperwork or other changes will be requested of customers; all our offices worldwide will continue to operate as they have in the past; and pre-existing staff arrangements will not change,” the company said.

Afilias has had its headquarters here since 2001, saying it had set up in Dublin originally because it thought the “.info” domain would prove popular here.

It also said the “make-up of its initial ownership and leadership groups” and “other financial considerations” had played a part in the decision.

Today its two largest customers are based in the US and this, alongside the tax changes, was a factor in the relocation.

The IDA declined to comment on the move, saying it does not comment on individual companies.

But IDA boss Martin Shanahan said earlier this year that Mr Trump’s tax changes were causing businesses to rethink plans to invest in Ireland.

“We have seen a slowing of decision-making coming out of the US and our read of that is that US companies are taking stock,” he said as the IDA announced its full-year results for 2017 in June.

“They are looking at the new tax rules which they’re now subject to in the US and they are, as one company put it to me, running the numbers again to see what that now throws out in the context of the new tax regime.”

At the end of last year Mr Trump enacted a sweeping reform of the US tax system, slashing the country’s corporate tax rate. He also made changes to the way some foreign earnings are taxed as part of a drive to bring US business back to American soil.

Mr Shanahan said that as of that time the number of companies looking at Ireland has not yet been affected, and his ambition was that if companies look to set up outside the US to find new markets, Ireland will be the place they choose.

Afilias saw revenue increase from $92.7m in 2015 to $106.7m in 2016, according to its most recently filed Companies Registration Office accounts.

Profit before income tax went from $36.8m to $38.6m.

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Avoiding a hard border in Ireland a ‘pivotal issue’ for Germany

Avoiding a hard border in Ireland is a ‘pivotal issue’ for Germany says Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.

“Any insecurity or deterioration in relation to Northern Ireland must not happen as a consequence of Brexit and in this regard we need to stand united and need the united voice of the 27 partners of the EU”, said Mr Maas today.

“We stand by our position we have to avoid a hard border; it is a pivotal issue,” he said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s top ally was speaking at a press conference alongside Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney in Berlin today.

The Tanaiste was addressing the annual conference of German foreign ambassadors.

He warned that the formal Brexit date of 29 March 2019 is “not far away” and that finding an agreement on the backstop was the most “difficult” issue.

But Mr Coveney said the Irish border was an “EU problem” and not just one facing Ireland.

“It’s not simply an Irish problem that needs to be resolved in these negotiations and the British government understands that”.

Meanwhile, both ministers refuted claims reported in the British press today which quoted UK Prime Minister Theresa May as saying that a No deal Brexit would “not be the end of the world.”

We do not want a no deal Brexit; we want a deal”, said Mr Maas.

“Brexit is difficult enough and if it takes place in a disorderly way it would be detrimental to all stakeholders involved which is why we are working towards forging an agreement.”

He added there should be some success “in the coming weeks because time is pressing”.

Mr Coveney said a ‘no deal Brexit would be ‘very bad news for Ireland and other EU countries’ and in Britain too.

He said the “various statements” emerging in the press about ‘no deal’ are designed to impact the negotiations, but says he is confident that a deal can be brokered.

“We will hear various statements as these negotiations proceed in relation to a No deal Brexit because it impacts on negotiation positions and so on; I don’t believe that a No deal Brexit is in anybody’s interest and I believe that we have the capacity to ensure that deals are done”, he said.

He also doubled-down on the need for the Irish backstop in the EU-UK Withdrawal Treaty, saying that matter would “not change”.

“It is certainly necessary as a fallback or insurance mechanism to reassure people they’re not going to face the consequences of a physical border on the island of Ireland again.

“That is an EU as well as an Irish position that’s not going to change

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Alan O’Neill: Selling is an acquired art – but a skill every company needs

Large organisations have clearly-defined corporate structures that remove ambiguity in roles and responsibilities. Regardless of the sector that they’re in, commercial organisations have a common denominator; they need to sell their products or services to achieve sales targets. Consequently, every one of them has a defined sales function.

The same can’t always be said for SMEs. Many entrepreneurs set up a business relying on the relationships they have with key people.

Or perhaps they believe so strongly in their product or service that they expect that sales will just happen. Others try to be proactive by placing advertisements using whatever media they deem to be appropriate.

For Pressure Welding Manufacturing (PWM) in particular, sales were achieved using three main strategies.

One was that Jack O’Dwyer had a tremendous reputation in the industry locally and business flowed in.

Another other strategy was to ‘land and expand’. In other words, when a project was won and any of the team landed on the customer site to carry out the agreed work, they might be asked to do extra work, or they might get to hear about other opportunities within that same customer.
Referrals were a third strategy, where existing customers might recommend PWM to others because of their great work.

The Challenge
These reactive strategies were effective when the market was strong and there was much less competition. Such strategies can also be improved upon with a proactive approach. This is a relevant reality even for my own business.

I never feel safe in the knowledge that the telephone will ring with opportunities. Yes, relationships and referrals are a key opportunity driver for us too. But that approach feels to me to be a little too passive and it leaves our destiny in the hands of others.

I also appreciate that the skill of selling is very different to the main technical skills of whatever profession you’re in. Jack is a top-tier engineer. He has also done a great job of selling. But he’d be the first to agree that a more proactive approach is needed in this changed marketplace.

The risk is that if you’re waiting for a call and it doesn’t come, you can’t always be sure of the reason.

How do you know if it’s due to client’s needs changing, or competitor activity, or wrong assumptions about your business, or rotation of decision-makers? Having a proactive selling methodology is essential for any business.

Change Tips for Building a Sales Pipeline
1 This starts with setting sales targets in the first place. Let’s say that you need to have annual sales of €1m to cover your costs and make a profit. Do a trend analysis of the last few years and identify what percentage you can safely rely on from a reactive perspective.

For example, let’s say that the trend shows that past continuity business, referrals and ‘land and expand’ opportunities accounted for 60pc of past sales.

Firstly, ask yourself, how sure can you be of achieving that number again this year. Be really tough with yourself and don’t make loose assumptions. Are you really sure?

2 Don’t rely on chance. Put a plan in place to proactively go after every prospect in that 60pc to ensure you maximise every opportunity.

3 That 60pc makes up part of your pipeline -­ now you should consider where the remaining 40pc will come from. Start with making a list of your prospect industry sectors and a target break down for each. Then within that list, identify the specific customer names and a target for each. (In a future article, we’ll explore steps on how to make contact with all prospects, existing and new).

4 With this pipeline, spread the opportunities across the 12 months to give you a visual of when the opportunities are likely to land. No target matrix like the one described here will ever work out exactly as planned. Some expected opportunities might never materialise and other new ones might appear. And that’s okay. The value of doing the exercise is that it gives you focus.

The Last Word
It’s commonly said that everyone is a salesperson of sorts, perhaps overtly selling a product or perhaps selling yourself in your career or relationships. But selling is an acquired art. I’m not at all convinced that you have to be ‘a born salesperson’ to sell. In fact, I have come across many people who are known for being able to “sell sand to the Arabs” – and some of them can be quite irritating.

If selling is new to you and if it causes you some anxiety, reach out for some help. There are numerous experts who will guide you, and the gain should more than compensate for the cost.

Alan O’Neill is managing director of Kara Change Management, specialists in strategy, culture and people development. Go to if you’d like help with your business.

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Global central banks set to dump £100bn of sterling in hard Brexit

Central banks holding sterling as part of their foreign exchange (forex) reserves could sell more than £100bn (€109bn) of the currency should Britain crash out of the European Union without a trade deal, a Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAML) study showed yesterday.

The prospect of a no-deal Brexit is becoming increasingly feasible in the eyes of investors who are hedging against the risk of the currency tanking if Britain is left isolated from the EU, its largest trading partner.

Such a huge currency sell-off would likely drive down the value of the pound against key peers including the euro and the US dollar.

This in turn would make it less lucrative to sell into the UK market for Irish suppliers, and harder for industry here to compete on price with British producers.

Yesterday, British Prime Minister Theresa May, inset, unsettled markets when she said a so called no-deal Brexit “wouldn’t be the end of the world”.

Central bank selling could be a major catalyst for a significant sterling downturn should Britain prove unable to secure a deal before next March, BAML told clients, noting that global sterling reserves currently amount to nearly $500bn.

While International Monetary Fund data shows sterling comprising 4.5pc of total central bank reserves, BAML said sterling’s average share of global reserves since 1995 was 3.6pc.

A one percentage point decline in sterling reserves equates to £100bn of selling, it calculates. “In a scenario that central banks adjust their sterling holdings back to the long-term average (3.6pc), this suggests that they could sell upwards of £100bn in sterling reserves on a no-deal scenario, all else being equal,” the note said.


BAML still expects a “soft” Brexit in which Britain retains customs access to the EU, and said reserve managers would likely await confirmation of a no-deal scenario before making a portfolio shift.

“This [no-deal Brexit] is not our base case, but we think central bank flows are an important source of flow which could determine whether sterling succumbs to a more protracted current account crisis,” the bank added.

Meanwhile, Britain’s Treasury yesterday denied a newspaper report yesterday that the government had asked Bank of England Governor Mark Carney to stay on for an extra year beyond his scheduled departure in June 2019.

“We don’t recognise their reporting at all,” a Treasury spokeswoman said when asked about the article in the ‘Evening Standard’ newspaper.

A diary item in the newspaper said the ministry had “quietly approached” Mr Carney about staying another year to provide continuity as Britain leaves the European Union. “Our position is the same – we plan to start recruitment soon,” the finance ministry spokeswoman said.

Spokesmen for Prime Minister Theresa May and the BoE declined to comment on the newspaper report.

The value of sterling has fallen sharply since April as investors worry about the lack of progress in Brexit talks.

Mr Carney agreed to serve five years, rather than the usual eight, as BoE governor when he moved from his native Canada to Britain in 2013. In 2016, shortly after British voters decided to leave the European Union, he agreed to stay an extra year, keeping him in the job until June 30, 2019.

Mr Carney said in July he does not intend to change that plan. The ‘Evening Standard’ said government officials were struggling to find a candidate strong enough to replace him.

The person most tipped to be his successor is Andrew Bailey, a regulator with 30 years of experience at the BoE. He is currently head of the Financial Conduct Authority, one of the country’s main watchdogs for the financial services industry.

The ‘Evening Standard’ is edited by former Chancellor George Osborne who appointed Mr Carney to the BoE

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