The digital business week

21 May 2012

A digest of the top business and technology news stories from the past week.

Ireland named best place to invest in Western Europe

Ireland has topped the list of the best places to invest in Western Europe, according to the annual Global Best-to-Invest Rankings compiled by international magazine Site Selection.

In terms of the locations in Western Europe that are ‘Best-to-Invest’, Ireland tops the list, followed by the UK, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy.

In terms of top metropolitan locations to invest, Dublin tops the list, followed by Frankfurt, Edinburgh and Birmingham.

In Eastern Europe, Hungary tops the list, followed by Poland and Slovak Republic, while in Asia-Pacific Singapore is listed as the best place to invest followed by Australia and Malaysia.

High Court refuses Hutchison bid to block Eircom restructure

The High Court has dismissed an attempt by Hutchison Whampoa to block the restructure of struggling telco Eircom on the grounds the Hong Kong conglomerate’s €2bn bid to buy the company was not properly given consideration by the examiner.

The move ends a bid by one of the world’s biggest companies with significant financial resources to buy Eircom, which is struggling under a €3.7bn mountain of debt, and instead paves the way to give control over to senior debt holders who are owed €2.7bn.

Last week, Hutchison Whampoa, which employs 230,000 people worldwide and owns mobile operator Three Ireland, applied to the High Court jointly with DW Investment LP, a junior creditor.

In a ruling, the High Court dismissed the application in favour of the senior debt holders.

The new offer included a €50m cash offer to creditors who are likely to be wiped out if a deal between Eircom’s examiner and senior lenders goes ahead. The second offer also saw the “conditionalities” removed except for due diligence.

In a statement, Three Ireland communications director Rachel Channing said Hutchison Whampoa is disappointed with the court’s decision.

Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin gives up US citizenship

Brazilian-born Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin has renounced his US citizenship in an effort to avoid paying US$600m in taxes.

Now that Facebook has gone public, Saverin owns 4pc of the company’s US$96bn stock, bringing his wealth to about US$4bn.

The 30-year-old denounced his US citizenship in September, a spokesman for him has said, and recently Saverin’s name appeared on a list of people who gave up their US citizenship published by the US’ Internal Revenue Service, The Telegraph reported.

Eduardo received his US citizenship in 1998, when he was 18. Had he retained that citizenship, he could have liable for up to US$600m in capital gains tax.

Saverin has lived in Singapore since 2010, where there is no capital gains tax, although US citizens are liable for the levy no matter where they live.

Q1 revenue soars 89pc to US$559.3m for Groupon

Daily deals site Groupon experienced explosive growth in the first quarter of 2012, reporting an 89pc increase in revenue to US$559.3m and 36.9m active customers, a 140pc increase year-over-year.

Groupon’s revenue in the first quarter of 2011 totalled US$295.5m.

Gross billings, which reflects the gross amounts collected from customers for Groupons sold, excluding any applicable taxes and net of estimated refunds, rose 103pc to US$1.35bn in the first quarter 2012, compared with US$668.2m in the same period last year.

Operating income amounted to US$39.6m, which includes an expense of US$28m related to non-cash stock-based compensation. This compares with a loss from operations of US$117.1m from the year-ago period, which included stock-based expense of US$18.9m.

Stay informed – get daily updates on the latest happenings in technology directly to your inbox.