The digital business week

2 Apr 2012

Paul Donovan, Eircom's outgoing CEO

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

Examiner appointed to Eircom – telco protected from creditors

High Court judge Mr Justice Peter Kelly has appointed Michael McAteer of Grant Thornton as interim examiner to three Eircom companies – Eircom Ltd, Meteor Mobile Communications and Irish Telecommunications Investments Ltd.

A full hearing on the application for examinership will be heard on 18 April. Examinership protects Eircom from its creditors as it works to put in place a viable plan to save the company’s future.

Eircom employs 5,000 people and is €3.7bn in debt.

Eircom’s CEO Paul Donovan, who will be leaving the company at the end of the year, said: “We welcome today’s High Court order and Mr Justice Kelly’s acknowledgement of Eircom’s strategic importance to the State. It is business as usual at Eircom during the examinership process.”

277 Game Group stores to close, 2,104 job losses in UK, Ireland

PwC has confirmed it will close 277 Game and Gamestation stores across the UK and Ireland from last week, which will result in 2,104 jobs losses over the week for those working in Game Group’s stores.

In a statement, PwC, which became administrator for Game Group, confirmed the redundancies and blamed the operational requirements of the business with the current difficulties in the retail market.

Game Group has 609 stores across the UK and Ireland. Fourteen are in the Republic of Ireland and 20 are in Northern Ireland. It did not confirm which stores across Ireland will close, though a number of unconfirmed reports suggest all of its stores in the Republic of Ireland will close, while all but three of its stores in Northern Ireland will close.

This will result in 333 stores which will employ 2,814 people. They will stay open while administrators search for a purchaser for the business.

Facebook halts secondary share trading, about to hit the road

Facebook’s decision to halt trading of shares on secondary markets is a necessary calming manoeuvre intended to pave the way for the necessary investor road show ahead of May’s IPO.

It was widely reported last week that Facebook was halting trading of shares on secondary markets like SharesPost and SecondMarket Inc as it prepares for the IPO.

The move is a necessary one in the so-called quiet period leading up to the flotation.

But it will be anything but quiet as Facebook’s top brass parade through a seemingly never-ending line of institutional investors who will ultimately decide the success of the IPO.

Apple, Foxconn vow to improve conditions in Asian factories

Apple has said it will work with manufacturing partner Foxconn to deal with wage and labour violations in Asian factories which produce many of Apple’s products.

Reuters reports that Apple’s main manufacturing partner Foxconn will hire tens of thousands of new workers for its plants and will stop illegal overtime. It said it would also improve safety conditions and would upgrade its on-site accommodation and amenities for its staff.

Foxconn said it would reduce working hours to 49 hours per week, including overtime, while keeping its total compensation for workers at the same level. The extra staff it will hire will make up for the lost hours.

Foxconn will also improve accident reporting and will help workers enrol in social welfare programmes.

The announcement came during Apple CEO Tim Cook’s visit to China to further investment in the country.

Apple has recently drawn controversy over labour practices at its partner manufacturing plants in Asia. In 2010, a number of Foxconn workers committed suicide and there were reports of accidents in its factories killing and injuring staff.

RIM experiences US$125m net loss in fourth quarter

RIM’s revenue for the fiscal fourth quarter was US$4.2bn, down 19pc since the previous quarter with a US$125m net loss. Former co-CEO of RIM Jim Balsillie has resigned as director of the company’s board.

RIM’s revenue was down 19pc from the third quarter and down 25pc from US$5.6bn from the same quarter in the previous year. Its net loss for the quarter was US$125m before adjustments.

Sixty-eight per cent of revenue was made up of hardware, 27pc was made up for service and 5pc was software and other revenue. RIM shipped 11.1m BlackBerry phones and more than 500,000 BlackBerry Playbook tablets in the quarter.

David Marcus named president of PayPal

PayPal executive David Marcus will be taking the helm of the online payments provider as president effective 2 April, PayPal owner eBay Inc has announced.

Marcus, as vice-president of Mobile for PayPal, has been leading PayPal’s mobile payments business and has driven mobile product innovations.

Reporting to eBay Inc. president and CEO John Donahoe, Marcus succeeds Scott Thompson, who left the company in January.

Marcus, who founded mobile payments provider Zong, worked as that company’s CEO until August 2011, when PayPal completed its acquisition of the firm.

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