The digital business week

28 Feb 2011

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

Ireland is the second most attractive country in world for FDI

Ireland is now the second most attractive country globally for foreign direct investment (FDI) after the Netherlands, and the number of companies locating operations here increased 15pc on last year with a corresponding increase in the rate of job creation.

That’s according to the latest National Irish Bank/FDI Intelligence Inward Investment Performance Monitor, which found that the quality of jobs created are high, with a relatively high proportion involving R&D and headquarter facilities.

There are a number of reasons why Ireland remains attractive to foreign multinationals, despite the economic crisis.

It offers access to a highly skilled workforce and a low corporation tax rate, while cost competitiveness has improved as many non-pay costs have fallen since 2008. Ireland has built a critical mass of firms in a number of important industries, such as pharmaceuticals, internet services and financial services, which in turn makes Ireland attractive for further investment in these areas.

The National Irish Bank monitor indicates that improving global economic prospects should result in continued FDI growth in 2011.

Number of smartphone users grew 44pc, Telefónica O2 says

Telefónica O2 Ireland reported that during 2010, its postpay customer base grew 38,000 or 5.4pc year-on-year. Mobile broadband subscribers increased to 164,000 at the end of the fourth quarter, up 29pc on the previous year.

The company said that the number of Telefónica O2 Ireland customers using smartphones increased 44pc year-on-year to the end of December.

Data traffic on O2’s network grew 53pc in Q4 compared with the previous year.

UPC broadband subscriptions up 35pc to 199,200 customers

Cable broadband provider UPC Ireland reported a 10pc rise in the number of service subscriptions for the past year, with 785,000 subscribers across the country.

Of these, the company said 199,200 were broadband subscribers, up 35pc year-on-year.

Phone customers now stand at 96,400 – a 60pc jump year-on-year.

The company has 381,000 digital TV customers in Ireland, a 9pc growth on the previous year.

UPC’s parent company UPC Holdings reported an 8pc revenue growth to €3.74bn. UPC Holdings’ owner Liberty Global reported a 5pc rise in revenues to US$9bn and an operating profit of US$1.5bn – up 52pc.

Digicel revenues up 7pc to US$580m

Denis O’Brien’s Caribbean and South American mobile operator Digicel has reported revenues of US$580m for the past quarter, up 7pc.

The company reported EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation) was up 32pc year on year and reached a record high of more than US$240m.

Subscribers were up 7pc year-on-year to 11.5m across Digicel’s 32 markets worldwide. The company said it has seen growth in all of its major markets, including El Salvador, Haiti, Jamaica, Papua New Guinea and Trinidad and Tobago and data revenues have doubled year on year.

Apple defeats investor plans to reveal CEO succession plan

Apple shareholders at the company’s AGM voted overwhelmingly against a proposal by a group of investors to get the technology giant to disclose how it intends to handle the eventual succession to CEO once Steve Jobs steps down.

It is understood that 400m votes were cast against revealing how Apple intends to execute its succession plan.

Earlier this month, the Institutional Shareholders Service (ISS) group of pension fund investors backed a shareholder proposal that required Apple to disclose Jobs’ succession plan.

Jobs (56), who is on medical leave, remains CEO of the company. In recent years, he has fought pancreatic cancer and still managed to bring out some of the most iconic products in the company’s history, including the iPhone, the iPad and the MacBook Air.

The problem some investors have is that Jobs is so synonymous with Apple’s brands and products that his eventual departure from the role could have a disruptive effect on the company’s performance.

ISS said it believes shareholders would benefit by having a report on the succession plan disclosed annually.

Twitter registers a business address in Dublin?

We recently reported on a campaign on Twitter to encourage the social media firm to locate a base in Dublin. A Companies Registrations Office (CRO) filing suggests Twitter has indeed registered as a business in Dublin.

A CRO filing has emerged pointing to the apparent location of a company called Twitter Limited at an address on Camden Street. It was registered on 24 January 2011.

It emerged in December that Twitter was scouting several European locations with a view to locating a “small presence” in Europe to begin with. Dublin’s chief competitor at that point was London.

Author and student Adrian Bannon began a campaign on Twitter to encourage the company to locate in Dublin. Over the weekend, learned a similar movement has emerged in Belfast, with the focus being on attracting the company to locate there.

According to the CRO filing, Twitter Limited will be based at 74 Lower Camden Street. No accounts have been filed so far.

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