State flouts EU rules by not revealing winners of public contracts

An estimated 7,500 tenders worth €12bn were offered by government departments, agencies and utility companies in 2013 on the eTenders procurement website.

Despite government cuts to health spending, the Health Service Executive (HSE) awarded more than any other body, according to the annual report from TenderScout.

But only 10pc of SMEs actually participate in the tender process.

European shares fall back from three weeks of sharp gains

European shares pulled back from three weeks of sharp gains today, causing many regional indexes to fall from multi-year highs, as weak corporate outlooks darkened the earnings picture.

Fresenius Medical Care (FMC) fell 7.1 percent after it unexpectedly forecast another decline in profit for 2014 amid cuts to healthcare budgets in the United States. Shares in Fresenius, which controls FMC, fell 8.8 percent.

Public contracts worth €12bn

Only one in 10 SMEs apply for public sector contracts in what is a very lucrative €12bn market. The figures for 2013 show that the biggest single contract was for €30m, awarded to Airfield Pavement Construction by the Dublin Airport Authority.

The HSE awards most public sector contracts,closely followed by the Office of Public Works and Cork County Council.

ECB will add to stimulus if outlook for prices falls further, says Draghi

“We don’t have any evidence of people postponing their expenditure plans with a view to buying the same thing at lower prices; in other words we don’t see what is defined to be deflation,” Draghi said after a G20 meeting in Sydney.

“We are aware of the risks. The Governing Council is willing and ready to take any action in case these risks were to gain strength.”

Economists are divided …

China shares crash for the biggest loss in seven weeks as property plunges

China shares posted their biggest loss in seven weeks today, led by property-related sectors after mainland news reports stoked fears that banks have begun tightening loans to developers ahead of next week’s annual parliamentary meetings.

The Shanghai Composite Index finished down 1.8 percent at 2,076.7 points, while the CSI300 of the largest Shanghai and Shenzhen A-shares shed 2.2 percent. For both, this was their biggest single day loss since Jan. …

Ulster Bank parent RBS to retrench in investment banking, cut 30,000 jobs – report

Royal Bank of Scotland, the parent of Ulster Bank, is expected to announce its withdrawal from many investment banking activities as well as much of its international business in a move that is expected to reduce staff numbers by at least 30,000 over the next three to five years, the Financial Times reported on Thursday. The company is currently reviewing its operations and is due to announce its plans next …

Eircom shares could trade on ‘grey market’ from next week

EIRCOM shares could be free to trade on the so-called “grey market” from late next week.

Shares in the phone company are now worth around €600m, up from nothing just months ago.

Banks and investment funds that took control of Eircom following its 2012 examinership will vote next Friday on whether to scrap a so-called “staple” agreement that means anyone buying or selling shares in the private company must also …

Fitch reaffirms Ireland’s credit rating at BBB+ with a stable outlook

Ratings agency Fitch has reaffirmed Ireland’s rating at BBB+ with a stable outlook.

Fitch had already rated Ireland’s credit worthiness as ‘BBB+’, three notches above sub-investment grade status, with a ‘stable’ outlook. Most analysts didn’t expect this rating to change.

The update comes just a month after Moodys, the most influential of the international credit rating agencies, raised its rating for Ireland to investment grade in a decision that followed …

Vodafone details share proceeds from Verizon deal

Vodafone has said shareholders will receive 0.026 shares in Verizon Communications for each Vodafone share they own as part of their payout for the $130 billion sale of the group’s stake in Verizon Wireless.

The British telecoms company also said its shares would be consolidated on February 24 at the ratio of 6 new shares for 11 existing shares following the closure of the deal on Friday.

Rise in Irish companies turning to the bond markets

IRISH corporate borrowers tapped the bond market for €5.5bn of new debt last year – or 15pc more than 2012. The increase reflects a strong appetite among bond investors but also banks’ reduced role in the lending market, according to rating agency Fitch.

As a class, corporate borrowers exclude the likes of the State and the banks but include trading businesses like Eircom, Ardagh Group and Bord Gais which all …