Opening Bell: Workers unrealistic about pensions, French firm looks for tax savings in Ireland, sterling falls to three-year low against euro

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Irish workers have been warned that they face a massive shortfall in the level of pensions they will receive upon retirement.

It has emerged that the average employee only has enough in their private pension fund to give them a weekly income of €60.

New research by the pensions and investment firm Standard Life found that most people will have a yearly retirement income of €3,000, excluding the State income.

In the survey of 1,000 people, the majority opted for a figure of €31,000 per annum when asked how much they would need to retire comfortably.

Chairman of the Pensions Authority David Begg has deemed expectations around the level of retirement income are unrealistic.

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Norwegian Air International has paid more than €1 million to a Washington lobby firm and former US Department of State civil servant as it attempts to secure a US permit for its Dublin-based business, the Irish Independent reports.

Payments by Norwegian Air Shuttle were made between 2014 and 2016 as the airline lobbied for the permission to fly from Europe to the US under the Open Skies deal.

It paid $450,000 in lobbying fees in 2014, including $360,000 to PR firm Prime Policy Group and $90,000 to John Byerly, a former deputy assistant secretary for transportation affairs at the US State Department.

In 2015, Norwegian paid $360,000 to Prime Group and $60,000 to Byerly.

So far this year, Prime Group has received $180,000 and Byerly has received $40,000.

A Norwegian spokesman said:

"The unique nature of the US political and legal system mean that Norwegian employs a law firm and advisors in Washington to advise on key political and legal matters – this is common practice among large organisations operating in the US," said a spokesman for Norwegian.

"Their work includes advising on Norwegian's applications to the US Department of Transportation (DOT) and in communicating NAI's legitimate right for a foreign carrier permit – a fact clearly acknowledged in the DoT's tentative approval of NAI earlier this year."

Norwegian faces stiff opposition across the Atlantic where aviation unions claim that it intends to use its Irish air carrier permit to employ low-paid crew, a claim consistently denied by the airline itself.

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A French drugs company is looking to move its headquarters to Dublin by the end of 2016 in an effort to lower an effective tax rate that stood at 47% last year.

Flamel Technologies was established in Lyon in 1990 but has had its executive office based in Missouri since US firm Eclat acquired it in 2012.

It moved all of its intangible intellectual property from France to Ireland two years ago. Last week it received shareholder approval to reincorporate the group in Ireland by way of a merger with wholly-owned subsidiary Avadel Pharmaceuticals.

Flamel is listed on the Nasdaq exchange with a market capitalisation of close to $540 million (€482m).

In a statement, CEO Mike Anderson said:

“Ireland is an ideal location to execute [the company’s] vision as it is quickly becoming a global pharma hub, and offers corporate governance policies more akin to those in the US."

He added that the company is "obviously not satisfied with" its current effective tax rate of 48%.

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Sterling hit a three-year low against the euro on Monday night, with the UK currency trading above 87 pence to the euro.

It lost some 0.7% against the euro yesterday.

The weakness of the currency will put further pressure on Irish exporters to the UK.

A report on the UK's inflation for July will be released today, which should go some way to determining the short-term direction of sterling. Other key indicators, including retail sales and jobless claims, will also arrive this week and give a sense of how the British economy is coping following the June 23rd decision to leave the EU.

IBEC warned earlier in August that if the euro reached 90p sterling, some 7,500 jobs and €700 million in exports from the agri-food sector would be threatened.