What Friday's papers say
Varadkar's early FG lead; AIB sale confusion; PAC focus on greyhound stadium sale; Ailes death could hit Fox probe
- The Irish Times says Social Protection Minsister Leo Varadkar has opened up a commanding early lead in the Fine Gael leadership race after securing the support of nearly twice as many of the party's TDs and senators as his main rival Simon Coveney.
- The paper quotes sources as saying that the Government will ignore a Labour Party motion to delay the sale of AIB which was passed by the Dáil yesterday, and that Finance Minister Michael Noonan is preparing to press the start button on the flotation as early as next week.
- In business, the Irish Times says businessman Dermot Desmond has sold his stake of about 25 per cent in plastics manufacturer One51 to a Canadian firm in a move that may pave the way for the company to float on the stock market.
- The paper quotes senior Revenue official Tony Buckley as saying that the operation of a post-Brexit customs regime can be automated and simplified and does not need customs points with Northern Ireland.
- The Financial Times leads with the launch of the Conservative Party manifesto, saying Theresa May swept aside Thatcherite free-market economics as she launched a "mainstream" manifesto aimed at wooing Labour voters and giving the Tories dominance of the political centre ground.
- The FT says London City Airport is to become Britain's first airport without a manned control tower after launching plans with air traffic manager Nats to build a mast with cameras and sensors to replace on-site, eagle-eyed controllers.
- In companies news, the paper quotes two people briefed on the criminal investigation into a wide range of practices at Fox News as saying that the probe is on shaky ground after the death yesterday of Roger Ailes, the cable channel's founder. Ailes, 77, was at the centre of the inquiry.
- The FT says the world's largest retailer Walmart has shown that it is making progress in its attempt to compete with Amazon as a destination for online shoppers, reporting that US online sales in its last quarter rose by 63 per cent on the same period in 2016.
- The Irish Independent also leads with the Fine Gael contest, saying it is Leo Varadkar's to lose after a flood of endorsements gave him a clear lead over rival Simon Coveney. The paper says Varadkar sent out a string of ministers, TDs and senators in a series of choreographed media appearances.
- In business, the paper says the two bodies that represent financial brokers - the IBA and PIBA - have voted to merge, with the new organisation Brokers Ireland set to challenge the Central Bank over what it regards as heavy-handed regulation.
- The Irish Independent says a majority stake in the Sam McCauley Chemists chain has been sold to private equity fund Carlyle Cardinal Ireland in a deal understood to be worth €50m. Former chief executive of Allcare Pharmacy Group Tony McEntee will join the company as chief executive after the investment is completed.
- The paper also reports on the sale of Dermot Desmond's stake in One51 to a Canadian company, calculating the value of the deal at €64.6m based on the price of shares in the so-called grey market.
- The Irish Examiner also says the Leo Varadkar's "shock and awe" start to his leadership campaign has given him an early but decisive lead over Housing Minister Simon Coveney in the race to become Fine Gael leader and Taoiseach.
- The paper says the Department of Education could be facing a probe after the Dáil Public Accounts Committee heard that the €23m it plans to pay for Harold's Cross greyhound stadium in Dublin is over twice its value. Fianna Fail PAC member and auctioneer Marc MacSharry put the market value of the six-acre site at just €9m.
- In business, the Examiner says the Dalata Hotel Group is set to spend nearly €70m on taking majority ownership of three Irish hotels that it has so far run on a rental basis.
- The paper quotes lending experts as saying that global stock market selling and an apparent misstep in the Dáil have raised market jitters over the proposed sale of a state stake in AIB. The confusion which followed the passing of Labour's AIB motion in the Dáil yesterday was "embarrassing" for the Government, according to IG Ireland's Declan Bourke.