Opening Bell: INM growth, Ikea's Irish sales, Russian laundering in UK banks

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Independent News and Media (INM) has announced a 12% increase in its pre-tax profits, which rose to almost €42m last year.

Its revenue increased by 0.7% rising to €323m as print circulation and advertising income fell but digital revenues rose.

INM has also announced that it will comply with a request from the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement to provide information relating to its possible attempt to acquire Newstalk.

The group said that this is, "a procedural matter that does not involve any conclusion that there has been a breach of law by the company or its officers."

INM issued a statement last November confirming that exploration of the possibility of bidding for the station was abandoned at a preliminary stage.

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New figures show that Ikea's flagship store in north Dublin attracted three million visitors last year as its revenues grew to €152m - that was a 15% increase on the previous year.

The average shopper spent €50 per trip and the total number of trips to the outlet were also 15% higher, according to the Irish Independent.

Ikea sold some 2.5 million meatballs during the 12 months.

However, its pre-tax profits fell by 10% to €11.84m as its operating costs increased. It paid a dividend of €11m to its parent company.

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The Guardian reports that $740m (€686m) connected to a money laundering operation by, "Russian criminals with links to the Russian government and the KGB" was handled by high-street banks in the UK.

According to the newspaper, 17 financial institutions including HSBC, the Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays and Lloyds accepted suspicious funds.

A number of the banks mentioned in the report have not disputed the figures, which are believed to be based on data gathered for corruption probes in Latvia and Moldova.

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The details of a settlement between the new owners of Clery's department store and SIPTU are expected to be revealed this morning.

Natrium Director Deirdre Foley will join former staff in her first press conference since her company bought out the Dublin landmark in 2015.

The union yesterday withdrew an objection to the redevelopment of the site after a mediation process with the new owners of the site.