Thursday 18 December 2014

The Punt: State body hits back at Daft.ie on student rentals

Published 21/08/2014 | 02:30

A reader wants to know if there is any way to know how the bank will assess them before they embark on house-hunting.  Photo: Frank McGrath.
A reader wants to know if there is any way to know how the bank will assess them before they embark on house-hunting. Photo: Frank McGrath.

WHEN it comes to housing policy its seems our State bodies are more than a little touchy. The Private Residential Tenancies Board is the latest to bite back.

The PRTB, which is headed up by Anne Marie Caulfield, issued some advice for students this week on how to get accommodation for the coming academic year.

But it seems to be miffed that Daft.ie issued a release on students rents and availability a day before. Daft uses asking prices to compile its price index.

Ms Caulfield issued a release the next day stating that its rent index "reveals the actual rents being paid for rented properties, as distinct from the asking rent which features in other rent reports published by other parties".

The word "actual" is in italic type for greater emphasis. Ouch.

The release quotes Ms Caulfield saying: "Our rent index provides them with important benchmark information and is an authoritative guide as to the actual rents being charged by landlords."

Don't ask Daft, come to the PRTB website, is the message being put out.

Busy days ahead for Dijsselbloem

Eurogroup President and Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem comes across as a hugely competent individual. He's also the tough voice advocating austerity and talking up fiscal discipline to those who look to be slipping  (in a sometimes condescending manner in The Punt's humble opinion). But it's not all rosy back home.

The Dutch economy is struggling to pull out of recession and is expected to grow 0.75pc in 2014 and 1.25pc in 2015. The country's leading economic forecaster warned last week that the Ukraine crisis could slow the recovery.

Dutch car sales look set to hit a 45-year low. One forecaster lowered its outlook for the country's car dealers this week, saying a sluggish economic recovery and weak consumer confidence were likely to push sales to their lowest level in more than four decades.

Mr Dijsselbloem said the recovery remains fragile, as he juggles a stagnant euro zone economy and difficulties at home. He's going to have a busy in-tray after the summer break.

Eircom all ye faithful

As Eircom continues to consider its options for a possible return to the stock markets, the company is being used by one US investment house as an example of how once distressed companies can yield high returns. In a recent filing to investors, US-based Franklin Square Capital Partners pointed out how in 2012, after exiting Ireland's biggest ever examinership, Eircom initiated a turnaround plan to transform itself into a next generation telecoms provider.

"Eircom's story serves as an example of an event-driven investment opportunity, the outcome of which is largely uncorrelated to the broader market," Franklin Square notes, adding that: "Eircom had been hard-hit by Ireland's financial crisis." But it said investment giant Blackstone, which is now the single biggest shareholder in Eircom, "believed the market was significantly undervaluing the company and began purchasing Eircom's senior secured debt at prices as low as 65 cent to the euro."

After restructuring, Eircom embarked on a $1bn investment in its network. By the time Eircom announced it was exploring a possible stock market flotation, the loan (and the equity attached) was trading at 130pc of face value, representing a potential profit of $1.4bn for shareholders, including Blackstone.

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