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What it says in the papers: business pages


HERE are the main business stories from this morning's papers:

Irish Independent:

***Former financial regulator Patrick Neary has said he is “deeply sorry” for the banking crisis – but pointed the finger of blame at the banks and government of the day.

Mr Neary – who received a €630,000 pay-off in 2009 and has an annual pension of €114,000 – said that “primary responsibility [for regulation] resided with the banks themselves”.

They were “best placed of all to assess their own risks and business models, to strike the right balance between their risk and reward and have skilled, responsible people in place”.

***Aer Lingus workers’ unions clashed over commitments from the airline’s chief executive Stephen Kavanagh on jobs as the Government agreed to sell its share in the company.

Mr Kavanagh, who is set for a €720,000 windfall from the sale, offered stronger guarantees on jobs late on Wednesday night, when his first offer was opposed by unions.

In a letter to Employment Minister Gerald Nash, the Aer Lingus boss committed to entering a collective agreement on compulsory redundancies and outsourcing if efficiencies can be achieved in the company.

***Ireland’s corporate tax regime is not transparent, the head of the European Parliament’s special committee on tax rulings said.

On a visit to Dublin yesterday, Alain Lamassoure said Ireland’s regime may be transparent for “the experts, for the big four [audit firms], for Apple, probably”.

But he added: “The simple explanation of how you combine the so-called Double Irish and the Dutch Sandwich... is not that transparent.”

Irish Times:

***Independent TD Catherine Murphy used Dáil privilege to raise details about businessman Denis O'Brien's financial affairs with IBRC, formerly Anglo Irish bank, which were the subject of a recent High Court injunction.

Ms Murphy detailed what she said were arrangements that Mr O’Brien had looked to retain when a special liquidator was appointed to IBRC.

Mr O’Brien’s lawyers said that the information Ms Murphy raised was incorrect and was an abuse of Dail privilege.

***Shareholders in Aer Lingus have been pressing Ryanair on what it is likely to do with its near 30pc stake in its smaller rival, according to the Irish Times.

The newspaper reports that the shareholders are likely to favour the sale of the company’s stake, which is valued at about €400m after IAG’s €2.55 a share offer to buy Aer Lingus.

Ryanair’s most recent annual report shows that it has three major shareholders in common with IAG; US-based Capital Research and Management, Standard Life and Blackrock.

***The European Central Bank’s €1.1tn quantitative easing programme has benefitted the Irish economy, according to Central Bank governor Patrick Honohan.

Speaking at the Oireachtas finance committee in what is likely to be his last appearance as Central Bank governor, Mr Honohan said that there was also a “broad distributional impact” from the bond-buying programme.

He said that an example of the benefits of the programme are the reduced Government borrowing which have allowed the National Treasury Management Agency to refinance IMF debts with interest rates of more than 5pc with “very low” interest rates.

Irish Examiner:

***The European Central Bank has been taken to task by European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly after one of its most senior officials disclosed market moving information to a select group of money managers at an event in London earlier this month.

The ECB has already accepted that an error occurred in relation to a speech by its executive board member Benoit Coeuré at an event in London on May 15, when he revealed the ECB could step up its bond-buying programme in May and June.

The speech was delivered to an audience of around 100 including hedge fund managers and investment bankers an event in London. As the speech was only circulated to the media and the rest of the market the following morning, it put those who heard it first hand at a potential advantage.

***Finance chiefs from the G7 economic powers discussed ways to revive the faltering global recovery yesterday as the US leant on Europe to reach a deal to avert a Greek bankruptcy.

The threat of a Greek default, rising oil prices, and bond market volatility are fuelling investor nervousness about the world’s economy. A slowdown in China — which was not present at the talks in Dresden, Germany — is adding to the concern.

Speaking before the meeting, IMF managing director Christine Lagarde said there was still a lot of work to do before Greece and its international lenders could clinch a cash-for-reforms deal.

***Ireland’s biggest company CRH could see its share price jump by as much as 24pc after it completes a deal to buy €6.5bn worth of assets from building materials rivals Holcim and Lafarge, according to the Irish Examiner.

The Swiss company and the French firm are required to sell off the assets to facilitate a merger between the two. CRH has received approval from competition authorities and its own shareholders for the deal, which has also been formally accepted by the sellers who are now legally obliged to the terms of the arrangement.

In a research note published yesterday, Davy Stockbrokers reiterated its “outperform” rating for the stock and set a €32 price target for shares, which are currently trading at just under €26.

Online Editors