The Digital Business Week

8 Feb 2010

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

SAP boss unexpectedly quits, co-CEOs to step in

German business software giant SAP has been rocked by the news that its chief executive Leo Apothekar is to step down with immediate effect. The company is returning to split leadership. The move comes amid alleged customer dissatisfaction and what analysts have claimed is a lack of strategic direction. Apothekar was only in the role seven months. SAP, a worldwide giant in the field of enterprise resource planning (ERP), is to return to split leadership with Bill McDermott, the company’s head of field organisation, and Jim Hagemann Snabe, head of product development, taking charge.

Ocean Energy signs major deal with US multinational

Ocean Energy, a specialised commercial company developing wave energy technology based in Cobh, Co Cork, has signed a major deal with Dresser-Rand, a global supplier of high-speed rotating equipment and service solutions. The agreement is expected to significantly develop wave energy in Ireland, and Ocean Energy CEO John McCarthy is confident the deal will lead to the creation of thousands of jobs here.  

Established in 2000, Ocean Energy currently employs six people and in November began its first funding round, hoping to raise €20 million. It has already received €700,000 from Sustainable Energy Ireland. In August, the company successfully completed more than two and half years of testing on its OE Buoy technology off the Galway coast, and says it is now at the stage where it is the most commercially viable technology for harnessing the power of the oceans.

Private equity group takes 69pc stake in Payzone

Irish electronics payment company Payzone has received an investment of €45 million from private equity group Duke Capital for a 69pc stake in the company. Payzone’s banks will also take an equity stake of 16pc while several members of management will take 15pc of the company. The amount of debt Payzone owes banks AIB, Bank of Ireland, Royal Bank of Scotland and Abbey National will be reduced from €320 million to €82 million following the deal. Shares in Payzone, which is listed on the London Stock Exchange, were suspended on Friday pending the outcome of the deal. The company will delist from AIM when the deal is completed.

E-commerce drives 100pc growth in online sales at Arnotts

Dublin department store Arnotts has reported a 100pc annual growth in e-commerce sales via its new website, which was deployed by the Buy4Now Technology Group. With an estimated 1 million unique visitors during 2009 to the Arnotts site, the store now attracts significant numbers of national and international shoppers. The site, which is fully integrated with the Arnotts merchandise system, has more than 10,000 product offerings ranging from gift ware and fashion, to furniture and electrical, with access to the very latest in-store promotions.

Creator of ‘virtual silicon’ device secures US$1 million in orders

A Belfast tech start-up has developed a new type of ‘virtual silicon’ device that is set to revolutionise the €2-billion a year fibre-optic comms business. Omiino has already secured more than US$1 million in orders for the virtual silicon technology, including a major unnamed Tier 1 Silicon Valley telecoms supplier. The company’s portfolio of virtual application-specific standard parts (VASSPs) is causing a stir among electronics manufacturers, especially those who make and consume present-generation application specific standard parts (ASSPs) that are used in current optical telecoms networks.

200 Louth jobs lost as Bitech Engineering closes

More than 200 jobs are set to be lost when Bitech Engineering in Dunleer, Co Louth, closes its doors. Bitech’s parent company Glen Dimplex made the decision to close the factory. SIPTU organiser John King described the decision to close the plant as “devastating” for the workers concerned, and said it would have far-reaching consequences for the Louth area with the loss of revenue generated from employee spending. Workers’ representatives and management at the plant had been engaged in extensive talks on a cost-reduction programme, which was rejected by the workforce in a secret ballot before Christmas.

Photo: Ocean Energy has signed a deal with Dresser-Rand, which is expected to significantly develop wave energy in Ireland

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years