Monday 19 March 2018

What it says in the papers: business pages

Paul O'Donoghue

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

Irish Independent:

***Banks have escaped being forced to slash their variable mortgage rates after a court  dismissed an action that would have cost them billions of euro.

The decision of the three-judge Court of Appeal means efforts to get mortgage rates reduced have suffered a major setback.

The move also puts the spotlight back on Finance Minister Michael Noonan to take firm action. But mortgage groups said the campaign to get banks to stop overcharging on variable rates would go on.

***A press release announcing the bank guarantee was being prepared at least six hours before the end of the meeting on the night of September 29, 2008.

William Beausang, assistant secretary at the Department of Public Expenditure, has told the Banking Inquiry that his email records show “that at 21.11pm I received a document intended to be a draft Government press release announcing the introduction of a guarantee for the domestic banks”.

His evidence suggests he was involved in preparing the press release several hours before then Taoiseach Brian Cowen told Bank of Ireland and AIB, who were present at the talks that night, that the guarantee was to be put in place.

***Investors rushed to buy low risk German bonds and gold, and sell risky shares and bonds, as negotiations between Greece and its creditors broke down yesterday.

European shares lurched lower, and US stock futures extended losses, after a Greek government official said the country’s creditors had rejected its latest proposals.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index fell 0.3pc after the latest of those talks stalled around lunchtime yesterday, having traded about flat for most the day. US stock index futures extended losses. Greek shares, which have become extraordinary volatile, were 3.6pc lower.

Irish Times:

***Greece’s Eurozone future was thrown into fresh turmoil last night as creditor powers demanded further austerity measures to release the funds the country needs to avoid an impending debt default.

Dashing tentative hopes that an agreement will be struck at a European Union leaders' summit today, a meeting of finance ministers was suspended after less than an hour last night as Alexis Tsipras, the Greek prime minister, was summoned for further late-night talks with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker.

Greece's three lending institutions rejected Athens' reform plans, five days before its bailout programme officially expires.

***The global consulting arm of ESB will today announce deals meaning that it will have secured €30m worth of contracts in the last week as it gears up for a significant growth period, the Irish Times reports.

According to the newspaper, ESB International will announce today it has won a €17m contract to manage construction of a Saudi gas plant. Earlier this week it also secured a €12.5m sub station contract in Bahrain.

The managing director of ESBI Ollie Brogan said that the company was targeting further growth in the Middle East.

***Governments and businesses around the world will come under renewed pressure to cut their emissions after a ruling by a Dutch court that the Netherlands must cut its greenhouse gases by at least 25pc by 2020, the Irish Times reports.

The decision marks the first time that a government has been told that it cannot hide behind international negotiations to cut emissions and has an independent legal obligation to safeguard its own citizens.

“The verdict is a milestone in the history of climate legislation because it is the first time that a government has been ordered by a court to raise its climate ambition,” said Wendel Trio, director of Climate Action Network Europe.

Irish Examiner:

***Over €300m has been paid out to the Revenue Commissioners in the past three years in penalties and interest as part of a crackdown on non-compliance since the recession, the Irish Examiner reports.

Close to €71m has been collected in penalties since 2012. However this figure is far below the amount take in for interest payments, with Revenue collecting €242.9m in interest payments over the past three years.

Fianna Fail finance spokesman said that the rate of interest imposed on penalties can have a “crippling” effect on businesses.

***State forestry company Coillte is looking at moving into the solar energy market and is likely to begin looking for a development partner immediately, the Irish Examiner reports.

According to the newspaper the firm may open a tender process for a solar partner as soon as today.

An effective mothballing of plans to build €15bn worth of wind farms across the midlands has seen numerous industry players turn their attention to solar projects.

***The chief executive of the Irish Greyhound Board has warned that the body cannot keep funding tracks which are not giving a return on money spent.

Geraldine Larkin sounded the warning in the IGB’s just published report for 2013, which shows that the body responsible for the regulation of the sport in Ireland slipped into the red that year, with pre-tax losses amounting to €171,744.

That performance represented a negative annual swing of €479,813, as it followed the IGB recording a pre-tax profit of €308,069 in 2012.

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