Saturday 25 November 2017

What it says in the papers: business pages

Paul O'Donoghue

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

Irish Independent:

***A former member of NAMA’s Northern Ireland advisory board stood to make £5m in fees from the proposed sale of the loans of Northern Irish debtors.

The Dail Public Accounts Committee was told global investment management firm PIMCO was to pay £15m in acquisition fees, with a third of these set to go to former NAMA advisor Frank Cushnahan.

Mr Cushnahan had been a member of NAMA’s Northern Ireland advisory board until late 2013.

NAMA chairman Frank Daly told the committee PIMCO informed it in March 2014 of the proposed fees. These included proposed payments to Belfast law firm Tughans and to Mr Cushnahan.

***The late Brian Lenihan was “suspicious” of the banks and could not determine if they were deliberately misleading him or just inept, the Banking Inquiry has been told.

Cathy Herbert, former special adviser to the finance minister, said he found it “very difficult” dealing with the banks. “Yes, he was suspicious, yes.”

She told Deputy Kieran O’Donnell: It was difficult for him to know ... at times, whether he was being misled or whether it was just ineptitude.”

***A planned International Shipping Services Centre (ISSC) in Dublin could catapult Ireland to being a major maritime base to rival London, Hamburg and Singapore, a new report published today has claimed.

The report, undertaken by the Socio-Economic Marine Research Unit (SEMRU) at NUI Galway, said that the centre would be a “major development” within Ireland's marine commerce sector.

“Building on the experience from the International Financial Services Centre, and on Ireland's success in aircraft leasing, the ISSC plan aims at developing a hub for international ship finance in Dublin to establish Ireland as an international maritime centre such as London, Hamburg and Singapore,” the report notes.

***There are hopes that the stalemate preventing a deal on Greece’s debt could finally be overcome as the Syriza party has submitted a new series of reform proposals seeking a €53bn bailout package from its creditors.

The European Council has called on both sides to make major concessions, significantly, saying that the Greek government’s proposal must be matched by an “equally realistic proposal on debt sustainability” from creditors.

The Irish Times reports that Athens is to push ahead with changes to its pension system and VAT to demonstrate to its creditors that it is serious about reform.

***Online retail giant Amazon has acquired the former Jacob’s biscuit factory in Tallaght, Dublin, the Irish Times reports.

According to the newspaper the old Jacob’s factory has been lying vacant since Jacob’s biscuits shut in 2008. The newspaper says that the building’s acquisition is set to generate a major jobs boost for the local economy.

Amazon already has one of its major data centres in Tallaght, Tesco’s former distribution centre on Greenhills Road, which it repurposed into a 240,000 sq ft data centre.

***House prices in Ireland increased at more than six times the EU average in the first three months of the year, the fastest rate in the union.

Prices jumped by almost 17pc compared to the same period last year. Sweden had the next highest rise in prices with an 11.6pc increase.

The average house price increase across the EU in the period was 2.5pc, according to the Eurostat House Price Index.

Irish Examiner:

***Beijing’s increasingly frantic attempts to stem a stock market rout were finally rewarded as Chinese shares bounced around 6pc yesterday, but the costs of heavy-handed state intervention are likely to weigh on the market for a long time.

The rebound came after China’s securities regulator, in its most drastic step yet to arrest the slump, banned shareholders with large stakes in listed firms from selling. The banking regulator said separately it would allow lenders to roll over loans backed by stocks.

The CSI300 index of the largest listed companies in Shanghai and Shenzhen raced higher to close up 6.4pc, while the Shanghai Composite Index bounced 5.8pc for its biggest daily percentage gain in six years.

***The Government has insisted that the high-profile IBRC inquiry is still on track after the judge heading up the Commission of Investigation quit just a month after it was set up.

Mr Justice Daniel O'Keeffe is said to have informed Government that, for personal reasons, he is unable to continue to act as chairman. He has been replaced by High Court Judge Brian Cregan.

The Irish Examiner reports that the move is likely to raise concerns about the timeline of the inquiry, even though officials stressed that the investigation’s deadline of December 31 remains unchanged.

*** Accounting firm Ernst & Young (EY) has received fees from the Central Bank totalling between €21m and €22m over the past two years.

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan confirmed that last year the Central Bank increased its pay to EY by 20pc going from €9.5m to €10m in 2013 to between €11.5m to €12m last year.

However, the bank yesterday refused to say what type of work EY engaged in last year for the Central Bank to receive the large fee pay-out.

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