Opening Bell: KBC staying in Ireland, Nissan Ireland on electric cars, Trump envoy vs Eurozone

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KBC Bank has confirmed it will stay in Ireland, ending weeks of speculation over the future of its 1,000 employees.

The Belgian-owned bank has made a "long-term commitment" to the country following a strategic review of its Irish activities.

CEO Wim Verbraeken cited the strong recovery of the Irish economy in recent years, as well as "strong fundamentals and attractive demographics", as key reasons behind the decision.

He also put it down to the turnaround performance of the bank itself, which returned to profitability in 2015.

Releasing its results for what it called "a very successful 2016", KBC Bank Ireland reported a net profit of €227 million after tax and impairments. This is up from €75m the year previous.


IDA Ireland is set to receive roughly €3.9 million back of the over  €60m paid in grant assistance to HP Inc over the years.

Jobs Minister Mary Mitchell O'Connor told the Dáil that the amount would be recovered "in line with legal arrangements in place" between the agency and company.

Answering questions on the loss of 500 jobs at the Leixlip plant, she confirmed that IDA Ireland was now marketing the site to interested buyers.

Enterprise Ireland will also visit on site.

The general manager of HP Inc has said the company will offer enhanced redundancy to staff, some of whom have worked with HP for more than two decades.


The head of Nissan Ireland has argued that sales of electric vehicles are unlikely to exceed 7,000 here by 2020, unless the Government puts in place measures to encourage take-up.

This would include free parking, free tolls and access to bus lanes.

James McCarthy believes that the target of getting 50,000 electric vehicles on the road in four years will fail without a coherent strategy.

As a result, Ireland faces fines of up to €6 billion from the European Commission for failing to promote renewable forms of transport.

Just 619 of the 218,000 new registrations last year were electric vehicles, as people continue to be concerned over their range.


Donald Trump's pick to be US ambassador to the EU believes that Greece is now likely to leave the euro, and has cast doubt on the survival of the entire eurozone.

Ted Malloch says it would have been "easier and simpler" if Athens had returned to the drachma four years ago and called the possibility of a fresh Greek debt crisis later this year a case of "deja vu".

The comments come just days after a European liberal alliance accused Malloch of "outrageous malevolence" towards the values that define the European Union.

When asked by BBC News last month why he would like the ambassadorial role, the businessman said:

"I had, in a previous career, a diplomatic post where I helped bring down the Soviet Union. So maybe there's another union that needs a little taming."