Opening Bell: Zero hours contracts, falling iPhone sales, George Soros fund on Kennedy Wilson

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Fianna Fáil has criticised the length of time it is taking the Government to bring forward legislation to ban zero hours contracts.

The Cabinet has approved a draft bill which aims to strengthen the regulation of casual workers, particularly in low-paid sectors.

Employers have hit out at the proposals, which they describe as crude and disproportionate and say they could expose them to being guilty of a criminal offence.

Fianna Fáil's Niall Collins says its about getting the right balance:

"People need certainty around their working conditions and the Government has been really slow in coming forward with proper legislation to address this issue. We're glad the Government took this step forward to recognise it as a priority but really it's coming very late in the day."

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IBEC has called for a national effort to avoid the risk of a divisive, damaging Brexit divorce.

The Government yesterday published its position paper on the negotiations, which focuses on the peace process in the North, maintaining the Common Travel Area and minimising the risks to Ireland's trade and economy.

The group representing Irish businesses has responded by stating that avoiding a major early clash over any EU-UK exit term is crucial so that substantial and constructive trade talks can begin.

CEO Danny McCoy says political posturing needs to give way to pragmatism:

"Clearly there's this line that says Britain has to get a bad deal to discourage others. We know where Britain was, it was never fully aligned into the European Union, it is unfortunate. But you know what?

"Europe's going to have to change over the next decade anyhow. It's in Ireland's interest that Britain is as closely aligned with Europe as possible and we should be in the vanguard of trying to strike the best deal possible for Britain."

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George Soros has criticised Kennedy Wilson Europe's plans to merge with its US sister firm, the Irish Independent reports.

Quantum Partners, one of the legendary investor's investment vehicles, said it is "disappointed" at the proposed terms of the merger.

The deal, which would create a $4 billion (€3.7bn) global property investment giant, includes around €1bn of Irish assets, including hotels and shopping centres.

Some 31% of Kennedy Wilson Europe's £2.88bn in portfolio assets are held in Ireland, with most of those in Dublin.
Its assets include the Portmarnock Hotel and Golf Links ad the Stillorgan Shopping Centre.

Quantum Partners' chief investment officer of Soros Fund Management, Dawn Fitzpatrick, wrote to the Kennedy Wilson Europe board yesterday that Quantum Partners was "disappointed with the terms of the transaction as well as our understanding of the process leading to the agreement".

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Apple has reported a fall in iPhone sales for its second quarter.

Consumers bought 50.76 million of the devices in the three months to the end of March.

That's down by about 430,000 on the same period last year.

Experts think customers are holding off ahead of the release of the 10th anniversary edition of the iPhone later this year.