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In the papers 30 May
Thursday, May 30 2002
by Sylvia Leatham

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Thousands of Eircom employees finally receive payment from shares scheme | Microsoft in talks with Securities and Exchange Commission over financial statements

The Irish Times reports that Alphyra's chief executive, John Nagle, has defended its track record at the company's agm. Nagle said the Dublin-based electronic transactions group showed a marked improvement in sales in all the countries it operates in. Earlier in the year, shares in Alphyra fell to a low of EUR1.40 after the company reported results that included large write-offs on the sale of its telecoms and computers business. Nagle said the write-down of goodwill had been misinterpreted by the market and that he was comfortable with analysts' projections for the company.

Business and Finance magazine reports that thousands of Eircom workers will reap the rewards of their employee shareholding (ESOP) scheme for the first time this week. The first distribution under the terms of the ESOP will see almost 13,500 eligible members receiving cheques for about EUR12,000 or share certificates for 7,270 Vodafone shares. Just under 76 million Vodafone shares were appropriated by the ESOP for sale or distribution to qualifying members, under a scheme designed to facilitate a maximum tax-free payout.

The Irish Examiner says that a new report from PricewaterhouseCoopers claims that the bursting of the dot.com bubble does not mean the end for e-business. The company's technology forecast said the continuing evolution of enterprise applications and enabling software had not slowed with the economy. The report said the dot.com boom had fostered familiarity with technology and its potential to impact on business and had transformed businesses from local to global companies.

The Financial Times reports that mmO2's shares hit an all-time low on Wednesday as investors responded to the company's first annual results, which showed slow revenue growth at its core UK operations. The mobile phone business spun off by BT Group in 2001 saw its shares fall 12 percent by close of business on Wednesday. Since the demerger, mmO2's UK revenues had risen less than two percent to just under STG2.8 billion (USD4.1 billion). Analysts expressed concern because the group's UK operations are the main driver of free cash flow.

The Wall Street Journal says that Microsoft is in talks with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the US to resolve allegations it misrepresented its financial statements, according to people familiar with the story. They said the SEC is likely to bring civil charges that the software giant failed to keep accurate books and records, which is considered a relatively minor violation. In such settlements, a company typically would not be fined but would pledge to abide by SEC rules.

The same paper reports that AT&T's credit rating has been cut two notches by Moody's Investors Service. The downgrade leaves AT&T just two notches above junk-bond level. Although the telephone giant is not facing a cash crunch, the downgrade increases borrowing costs for the company and represents the latest challenge to the company's turnaround efforts.


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