IN THE PAPERS
In The Papers 24 February
Eircom under mounting debt pressure | RTE wins approval for digital channels
The Irish Times reports that holders of Eircom's senior debt have appointed restructuring experts Houlihan Lokey as advisers, as they prepare to negotiate with the telco about billions of euro of outstanding debt. Crunch talks on the future of the company take place in Dublin this week. It is believed four representatives of Singapore-based STT are holding intensive meetings with various Eircom stakeholder groups, including Eircom management and board, the Esot and union representatives. Eircom publishes its half-year results next Tuesday.
The paper also notes that RTE has won approval to start broadcasting five new digital channels from next May. The new channels -- RTE Two High Definition Select, RTE Aertel Digital, RTEjr, RTE Plus and RTE News Now -- will be added to the current terrestrial channels and all will become available in digital format through Saorview. As part of the conditions of approval, the new children's channel and the news channel will not be allowed to carry advertisements. It is not yet known whether cable service providers such as UPC and Sky will carry the additional channels.
The Irish Examiner reports that parents could be putting their children at risk by buying allergy tests online and on the high street, experts have warned. Youngsters can end up malnourished if they are put on restrictive diets and there is no scientific basis for many of the tests, according to experts from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) in Britain. The watchdog is urging parents to avoid costly private or alternative testing and see their doctor for a referral to an allergy specialist if necessary.
The paper also says that Belfast-based high-tech camera maker Andor Technology had a strong performance for the first four months of its financial year, but the company is cautious on account of continued economic volatility. In an update, the company said trading has continued to be strong, "with all regions showing growth over the same period last year". Ahead of its AGM next month, the company said its current order book is at a record level. However, management added that volatility in the currency markets remains a concern.
According to the Financial Times, shares in Hewlett-Packard dropped as much as 12 percent in early trading on Wednesday following the company's decision to slash its revenue forecast for its current fiscal year by USD2 billion. HP also reported that revenue for the first complete quarter in which Leo Apotheker was in charge had fallen short of its own forecast, as consumer PC sales slumped and it suffered an unexpected setback in the IT services business. Apotheker blamed the services shortfall on "glitches" in parts of its operations that he hoped would be fixed by an overhaul under way in its sales and marketing efforts.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple shareholders appear to have defeated a proposal requiring the company to disclose a succession plan for Chief Executive Steve Jobs. The proposal, brought by the Central Laborers' Pension Fund, had requested the board adopt and disclose a detailed succession planning policy that included the development of criteria for the CEO position, identification of internal candidates and the submission of an annual report to shareholders. Apple countered that it supported the concept but it already fulfils several of the requests and that disclosing its plans would give competitors an advantage. An initial vote count suggests the proposal failed.
The paper also says that Google plans to release a free tool allowing users to transfer files from Microsoft Office to the web so that multiple people can edit and collaborate on them. Google plans to formally introduce the Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office later this week, after releasing it to early testers in November. The company says it takes Office files, uploads them to Google's servers and gives them a unique web address so they can be accessed through Google Docs from any internet-connected device. The files can also be accessed from within Office.
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