Wednesday 25 April 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:

***The Government relaxed building standards for one-off homes and extensions despite being warned by officials it would create a “two-tier” housing system and put homeowners at risk.

Officials told Environment Minister Alan Kelly and Housing Minister Paudie Coffey that easing standards aimed at preventing shoddy building work could leave consumers “vulnerable” in a sector where “risks to public safety are known to occur”, the Irish Independent has learned.

The move is widely seen as an attempt by the coalition to secure rural votes, and comes despite widespread opposition from building professionals.

***Shares in insurance group FBD plunged as much as 7pc yesterday on reports the insurer may need up to €100m in fresh capital to meet new European Union solvency rules.

FBD will sell its stake in a hotels business to its joint venture partner Farmer Business Development for €48.5m and issue bonds to meet the target, the Irish Independent understands.

The insurance group was rocked by the sudden departure of chief executive, Andrew Langford, at the end of July.

***The Revenue Commissioners will not seek to bring prosecutions against people who have not paid tax on earnings from renting out rooms through the Airbnb online service.

A senior Revenue official told the Irish Independent it did not expect to uncover massive cases of tax evasion from its investigation of users of the peer-to-peer business.

Declan Rigney, assistant secretary in Revenue’s planning division, said it would be seeking to pursue tax arrears and interest from Airbnb hosts who had failed to pay tax on their earnings, but prosecutions were not on the cards.

Irish Times:

***Revenue has collected more than €30m in unpaid tax and penalties from hundreds of medical consultants, the Irish Times reports.

The move is part of an ongoing investigation into the financial affairs of medical consultants. Officials found that many individuals had set up “controlled companies” to maximise income and reduce their tax bill.

The largest settlement so far is for €2m following the investigation of more than 200 medical consultants. A further 300 individuals are in the process of being investigated by Revenue.

***The number of mortgages drawn down in the second quarter of the year jumped by more than 30pc compared to the same period last year.

6,250 mortgage loans valued at €1.08bn were drawn down in the period, according to figures from the Banking and Payments Federation.

This is a 32.3pc increase in value terms compared to the second quarter of 2014, when loans worth €820m were drawn down.

***Over €3.6m worth of shares in One51 sold for €1.85 yesterday in a move that could raise the bar on the company’s would-be buyer Capvest, which recently signalled a provisional bid of €1.80 a share for the firm.

Capvest recently told shareholders in the Irish investments company that it was willing to pay €1.80 a share for the group, valuing it at €282m, if enough investors will sell their stake.

However, almost 2m shares in One51 sold yesterday for €1.85. Although the identity of the buyer is unknown, the move is likely to raise pressure on Capvest to up its offer.

Irish Examiner:

***A couple who brought High Court proceedings against Permanent TSB are to be repaid the full €61,000 they were overcharged by the lender.  

Liam Fitzgerald and Angela Wallace who are among the 1,100 customers of Permanent TSB, who a Central Bank investigation found were overcharged, earlier claimed PTSB demanded they must accept its offer of compensation of just under €6,000 before it would repay the amount the bank overcharged them.

The couple, who always fully complied with their mortgage with PTSB, claimed it was “utterly improper and unlawful” for the bank to place such a condition on the repayment of the monies PTSB admits was due and owing to them.

***The cost of renting is reaching record levels as the cost of paying down a mortgage is falling, according to new figures.

CSO data shows that the shortage of homes has caused rents to rise to levels not seen since early 2008 even though household incomes are still below pre-crash levels.

Rents charged by private landlords rose by 1pc in June and were 10.4pc more expensive compared to a year earlier.

***International credit ratings agency moody’s has said that it is unlikely that there will be a speedy return to normal personal insolvency levels in Ireland.

In a major report covering four eurozone countries, Moody’s Investors Service said that although these states demonstrated rising levels of consumer confidence, this is unlikely to help rates of personal insolvency fall any time soon.

It said that this is because high unemployment and stagnant salaries impact more on people who are looking to pay their debts than consumer confidence does.

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