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Galway businessman also reveals Rivada is working on technology for driverless cars

about 18 hours ago

Mark Paul

Declan Ganley told Pennsylvania legislators Rivada could roll out a new telecommunications network for the state’s emergency services in under four years.




Galway businessman Declan Ganley has told the US state of Pennsylvania that his company, Rivada Networks, will create up to 6,000 jobs there if it wins a contract to build a new telecommunications network for its emergency services.

Mr Ganley made the promise on Thursday during his testimony to a Pennsylvania senate hearing which was discussing whether the state should opt out of the US federal government’s proposed new FirstNet network for emergency service first responders.

During the hearing, Mr Ganley also revealed that Rivada is working with Carnegie Mellon university in Pittsburgh to develop technology for driverless cars.

The businessman was invited to testify at the hearing as part of his efforts to convince Pennsylvania to award a major contract to Rivada which would involve it rolling out a new telco network by erecting 1,200 masts across the state.

Rivada previously bid to build the FirstNet across the whole of the US, but lost out on the $6.5 billion federal contract to its rival AT&T. The building of FirstNet was originally recommended by the 9/11 Commission, which highlighted communications problems faced by first responders during the attacks.


States have been given until December 28th to decide whether to opt out of the federal network and build their own first-responder systems. Rivada is lobbying several states to opt out and do business with it instead.

Mr Ganley told the Pennsylvania legislators that Rivada could roll out the state’s network in under four years. He said it would hire 3,000 workers directly, as well as another 3,000 via contractors.

In response to questioning, Mr Ganley committed to using union workers to build the network. He also said Rivada could eventually create more than 6,000 jobs in Pennsylvania, at which point he revealed its work on driverless cars.

The Irish businessman told the legislators that if the state opted out of the federal system it would have greater control than it would under the Washington-run FirstNet.

“[If something went wrong] you’d have a throat to choke . . . this is it right here,” said Mr Ganley, pointing to his own neck.

Mr Ganley suggested that Pennsylvania could claim $168 million in federal grants to go towards the cost of building the network if it selected Rivada. He also proposed that the state could receive $383 million as part of a revenue-sharing arrangement.

The businessman has also lobbied similarly for in states including Vermont and, most prominently, New Hampshire, whose governor has indicated it may opt out of FirstNet.

Rivada has an office in Galway, but it is mainly US-based. Its directors include Gen Richard Myers, former chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, and Charles Guthrie, former head of the British army.

New figures show country has largest number of high-growth firms across EU

Thu, Oct 19, 2017, 14:17

Charlie Taylor

According to the latest statistics, about 1 in 5 employees were employed in high-growth enterprises in Ireland in 2015, the highest level in Europe




Ireland had the largest number of high-growth enterprises in the European Union in 2015 with such companies having a significant impact on employment levels, new research shows.

The country moved up three places from the previous year in the rankings, which are compiled by Eurostat, the official statistics unit of the EU.

A high-growth enterprise, as defined by the agency, is a company with average annualised growth in number of employees greater than 10 per cent a year over a three-year period.

In 2015, the latest year for which there are records, close to 158,000 companies were recognised as high-growth enterprises in the EU, up from 145,000 a year earlier. This is equivalent to one tenth of all active businesses with at least 10 employees in the European Union.

The research shows member states show considerable variation in the distribution of such businesses with 2,806 high-growth firms in Ireland. this is equvalient to a 14.9 per cent share, up from 12.6 per cent a year earlier and at a rate that places the country ahead of Malta (13.7 per cent), Hungary (12.5 per cent), Slovakia and Latvia (both 12.2 per cent. At the opposite end of the scale was Cyprus at 2.2 per cent and Romania (2.3 per cent).

The study estimates that high-growth enterprises provide work for over 13.5 million people across the EU.

According to the latest statistics, about 1 in 5 employees were employed in high-growth enterprises in Ireland in 2015, the highest level in Europe. It was followed by Hungary (20.7 per cent) and Portugal (19.7 per cent). In contrast, the lowest shares were registered in Cyprus and Romania at 3.6 per cent and 5.9 per cent respectively.

Looking at a breakdown by economic activity, high-growth enterprises in the EU were more predominant in the service sectors than in the rest of the business economy in 2015.

The highest proportion of high-growth enterprises was in the Information and communication sector, followed by administrative and support service activities, transportation and storage, and professional, scientific and technical activities.

Men still get bigger salary increases and bonuses than women in fluid market

Thu, Oct 19, 2017, 11:44

Peter Hamilton

Demand for marketing professionals has started to outstrip supply, a survey suggests. Photograph: iStock




The gender pay gap in the marketing, digital and data sectors has narrowed but disparities still exist, a survey suggests.

The 2017 salary and market insights survey by specialist recruitment firm Alternatives Group and the Marketing Institute of Ireland suggests that the gender pay gap has narrowed considerably at director level.

Last year, a pay differential of 18 per cent was recorded, whereas this year the gap had dropped to 3 per cent.

However, disparities exist in a number of areas related to pay, with men getting higher salary increases and bonuses than their female counterparts.

Aside from gender related issues, the survey suggests that salaries are on the rise, with 61 per cent of respondents receiving a pay increase this year.

Meanwhile, as the economy edges toward full employment, demand for workers is at the early stages of outstripping supply which paves the way for considerable employee movement. From manager level down to mid-career workers, a majority plan to move jobs within the next two years.

The gig economy, too, appears to be seen as more attractive, with 35 per cent of respondents to this survey saying they have freelanced or worked on contract previously.

“The survey reflects the fact that, for many businesses it’s role reversal time. In the battle to recruit and retain talent they are now the ones selling themselves hard to current and potential employees because talent demand outstrips supply in many sectors,” said Charley Stoney, managing director of Alternatives Group.

Communist Party congress focuses on ‘moderately prosperous’ future

Thu, Oct 19, 2017, 09:29

Clifford Coonan

The Communist Party congress in Beijing is expected to secure president Xi Jinping’s grip on power.




China’s economy grew a solid 6.8 per cent in the third quarter as fears of a property bubble eased after government cooling measures, but anxiety about corporate and household debt continued to weigh.

The data came as the country’s ruling Communist Party was meeting for a twice-a-decade congress, at which the prospects for the world’s second-largest economy are a major part of the agenda.

GDP growth in the first three quarters was 6.9 per cent, the same as the first two quarters and within the government range of 6.7 and 6.9 per cent. China is well on track to exceed the government’s annual growth target of 6.5 per cent for 2017.

“It shows that the economy is very resilient,” Xing Zhihong, spokesman for the national bureau of statistics, told a news conference.

He said the country’s economic structure had improved further because of industrial upgrading and improvements in the services sector.

Growth in new construction slowed, while property sales dropped for the first time in more than 2½ years in September.

Retail sales remained strong, expanding 10.4 per cent in the first three quarters, unchanged from a year ago.

Industrial output grew by 6.7 per cent year on year in the first three quarters, up by 0.7 percentage points compared with the same period of last year.

Fixed-asset investment rose 7.5 per cent from January to September, down from 8.2 per cent in the same period of last year.

Speaking at the congress, central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan warned that undue optimism could cause a “Minsky moment”, referring to economist Hyman Minsky’s idea that booms lead to busts, with asset prices collapsing suddenly after a sustained period of growth.

Debt levels

The governor of the People’s Bank of China warned that corporate debt levels were relatively high and household debt was rising too quickly, but said China would control risks from sudden adjustments to asset bubbles and deal with disguised debt of local government financing vehicles.

Zhou caused a bit of a stir at the weekend when he said that China’s GDP could grow 7 per cent in the second half of the year, and Thursday’s data seem to fly in the face of this example of perhaps excessive optimism.

Also speaking at the congress was Guo Shuqing, chairman of China’s banking regulatory commission, who restated China’s commitment to reforming the banking system to make it easier for foreign banks to operate.

He said the falling market share for overseas banks in China was bad for competition and the regulator would give foreign banks “more room” in equity ownership and business scope.

Economists have been closely watching the party congress, which is expected to secure president Xi Jinping’s grip on power, for indications in relation to future policy.

In the end, Xi’s 3½-hour speech on Wednesday did not contain a specific GDP target, but said that China was aiming to be a modern socialist economy by 2035 and a great socialist economy by 2050.

Wang Tao at UBS said the focus was on achieving “a moderately prosperous society” by 2020, including its goal of doubling 2010 GDP by 2020.

“To achieve that goal, we estimate that China only needs to grow by 6.3 per cent per annum from 2018 to 2020, and thus expect the government to soften its growth target at the margins for 2018,” Wang wrote. – (Additional reporting: agencies)

Number of jobseekers increased by 13%, says recruitment firm Morgan McKinley

Thu, Oct 19, 2017, 05:30
Updated: Thu, Oct 19, 2017, 06:58

Peter Hamilton

Particularly strong sectors included science, financial services, and data compliance. Photograph: iStock




The number of professional job vacancies in Ireland in September increased by 9 per cent compared to the same month last year.

The increase in August was less significant, bumping up by only 2 per cent against the backdrop of an economy with almost full employment.

According to the monthly employment monitor from recruitment consultancy Morgan McKinley, the number of professionals seeking jobs, meanwhile, increased by 13 per cent.

“There is demand across multiple sectors for professional skills in all main business and operations management functions which reflects an overall sense of confidence across the economy in spite of the various geopolitical and economic issues facing Ireland,” said Karen O’Flaherty, Morgan McKinley’s chief operating officer.

A number of areas were identified in the report as having continued buoyancy. Particularly strong sectors included science, on the back of growth in the food industry; financial services, aligned to Brexit; and data compliance as businesses await the implementation of the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Information technology, too, remains a “powerhouse of the Irish economy”, driven by demand for engineering, cloud computing and digital talent.

In regional terms, Ms O’Flaherty suggests Dublin and Cork are operating at a pace higher than other regions, however, “the gap is narrowing as more and more professional jobseekers specify that they are seeking career opportunities in the regions.”

“Increasingly, multinational and indigenous employers are moving to establish offshoot operations to cater for this need and to fill vacancies more quickly. This is very noticeable in areas like financial services where the south-east, for example, has seen a cluster of financial services companies expanding and establishing operations,” she said.

Morgan McKinley’s report is compiled using the company’s own records of new permanent job vacancies, while statistics for the market as a whole are derived using the company’s own market share.

Enterprise Ireland’s Anne Lanigan sets out challenges at Embassy event

Thu, Oct 19, 2017, 06:15

Lara Marlowe Paris Correspondent

Irish diplomat Rory Montgomery: “We have to make the best of it. There will be positives as well. We now realise as a country that we have to do more, more quickly, of what we should do anyway.” Photograph: Conor McCabe




Brexit is the greatest economic challenge faced by Ireland in the past 50 years, Anne Lanigan, the head of the Brexit unit in Enterprise Ireland told a seminar co-hosted by Irish Ambassador Patricia O’Brien and Richard Dujardin, the president of the Franco-Irish business group NetworkIrlande, at the Irish Embassy in Paris.

“It is obvious that Ireland is far and away more likely to be affected than anybody else,” said Rory Montgomery, the diplomat responsible for EU-UK negotiations in the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Ireland’s exposure to the British market is enormous. A government pamphlet handed out to guests notes that 80 per cent of goods produced by individual firms in the agri-food sector are exported to the UK, either for direct use or for onward transit. The busiest international flight route in Europe is between London and Dublin. Nearly half of flights coming into Ireland originate in the UK.

“At the moment, our clients export €21 billion around the world. Of that, €7.55 billion or 35 per cent goes to the UK,” said Ms Lanigan. By comparison, Ireland currently exports only €4 billion to the euro zone.

The Irish food and drink sector is similarly exposed to the British market. “We currently export €11 billion to 108 countries around the world,” said Shane Hamill, the Brexit specialist at Bord Bia.

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“In terms of market breakdown, 37 per cent of total food and drink exports go to the UK, 32 per cent to the rest of the EU and 31 per cent to international markets.”

Food exports

Ireland saw a €500 million drop in food exports to the UK in late 2016, because of the depreciation of sterling. “Our companies tell us that once the currency goes beyond 85 pence, they’re struggling,” Ms Lanigan said.

In recent months, Bord Bia held currency workshops and issued €250,000 in grants to companies dependent on the UK market. It has held 27 trade fairs around the world, and established a “risk diagnostic tool” to attempt to measure the risks associated with Brexit.

Ms Lanigan admitted that “challenges are greater than opportunities.” But Brexit forces Irish companies to diversify, innovate and “create resilience that even if Brexit were cancelled would be good things for them.”

Ms Lanigan compared the dilemma faced by Ireland to Australia’s experience when the UK joined the European Community in 1973.

“They told me they felt betrayed,” she said. “Suddenly there were tariffs on their products going to the UK. They took the challenge, turned around their industries, looked to new markets virtually on their doorstep in Asia. Now, Australia looks back and says, ‘That was the best thing that ever happened to us.’ My vision is that in 20 years time, we’ll turn around and say, ‘Brexit was the best thing that ever happened to us’.”

Less sanguine

Mr Montgomery, a seasoned diplomat with extensive experience in Northern Ireland and the EU, was less sanguine.

“I’m not quite sure I would agree that we will look back and think it’s the best thing that ever happened to us,” he said.

“We have to make the best of it. There will be positives as well. We now realise as a country that we have to do more, more quickly, of what we should do anyway.”

The assumption that commercial stamp duty will generate €376m in revenue is optimistic

Thu, Oct 19, 2017, 06:05

Pascal Donohoe: argues he was just returning stamp duty to its pre-crash level. Photograph: Cyril Byrne




Since taking up office, Paschal Donohoe has made several grand speeches about learning from the mistakes of the past; about not accelerating capital spending too quickly so as to avoid overheating the economy; and perhaps most importantly, about not tying spending to transitory taxes, a practice that left a crater in the public finances when everything went belly up.

And yet in his first budget in charge, he has tied a significant chunk of the adjustment to the likely, or unlikely as many pundits see it, tax yield from a 4 per cent hike in stamp duty on commercial property transactions.

Nobody, outside of the commercial sector, seems to have had a problem with the target rather it’s the assumption the move will generate an additional €376 million in annual revenue for the exchequer.

The projection seems to be based on the €9.4 billion worth of transactions recorded in the sector last year. The 2016 numbers, however, were inflated by the sell-off of assets by Nama and the banks, which generated an unusually large number of high-value transactions.

For instance, four out of five of the State’s largest shopping centres exchanged hands in 2016.

The problem is: this level of activity is unlikely to be repeated. Based on the nine-month figures for 2017, commercial property consultants CBRE is predicting the value of transactions for this year will be around half last year’s number. All of which poses a risk for the Minister’s main tax-raising measure, and begs the question why are we still tying budgetary spends to transaction taxes, which jump around depending on the underpinning level of activity.

The sage economic advice is to target things like residential property or water use, but, of course, this is politically difficult for governments. Minister Donohoe also argues that he was just returning stamp duty to its pre-crash level after a temporary reduction to aid recovery in the sector.

He might be using the same argument next year to justify removing the reduced rate of VAT enjoyed by the hospitality sector, which successfully used Brexit to thwart any such move this year.