Opening Bell: Belfast's Brexit influence, Belgium region opposes EU/Canada trade deal, media's mega merger

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Theresa May will on Monday offer the leaders of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland the chance to formally feed into her Brexit strategy as the UK Prime Minister looks to engage the increasingly restive Scots and other regional leaders.

Ms May is convening a meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee to offer The Scottish Parliament, Cardiff Bay and Stormont a "direct line" into David Davis, the Brexit secretary in a bid to make good on her promise to engage the devolved administrations in her EU exit plans.

The move comes as Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon dials up the pressure on Ms May to offer the Scots a "flexible" Brexit deal so they can, if they choose, retain access to the European single market.

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AT&T faces a challenge to satisfy US regulators that its $85.4bn purchase of Time Warner should go ahead as planned.

It will need to convince authorities that the deal will not distort media and communication markets.

While Donald Trump's presidential campaign faces an uphill struggle between now and the November 8th polling date - if he takes power he says he will do all he can to block the deal.

A spokesperson for Hillary Clinton's campaign said the deal raises "a number of questions and concerns" and that it needs to be carefully scrutinised.

The agreement is a stock-and-cash transaction valued at $107.50 (€98.75) per share. It has been approved unanimously by the boards of directors of both companies.

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The European Union has given Belgium until later today to end its opposition to a free trade deal with Canada.

The socialist-leaning Wallonia region of the country argues that the deal is bad for EU farmers.

Canada has warned EU leaders that the ball is now in their court to finalise the deal.

Its leader, Paul Magnette, told local media that the ultimatum is "not compatible with the exercise of democratic rights."

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Parts of Ireland's rail network could face closure without additional government funding.

The warning's contained in a draft report which focuses on possible solutions for Iarnrod Eireann's future.

The document, seen by The Irish Times, says that although the number of people using trains is on the rise again, Irish Rail could still lose about €11m this year.

Iarnrod Eireann worked with the National Transport Authority to compile the report, which also estimates that the company needs investment of more than €600m over the next five years.

 

Additional reporting by IRN