Tuesday, October 02 08:09:33
Enterprise Ireland's has ramped up its drive to attract foreign technology start-up companies to these shores and has London-based firms firmly within its sights. The Irish semi-state (EI) last year launched a E10m fund to invest in small technology companies if they relocated to Ireland. That fund is specifically targeting London-based companies who are being incentivised to shift operations to Dublin where they can avail of a range of support services and a lower cost base that they can't get in the British capital.
The British government has made a huge effort to promote its "Tech City" in central London as a base for start-up internet- based companies, and Prime Minister David Cameron has pointedly trumpeted the virtues of London over Dublin. Last year when London and Dublin were competing to become the European base of microblogging site Twitter, Mr Cameron personally made overtures to get the company there. In the end, Twitter decided to locate offices in the two cities.
Yesterday, Naghmeh Reilly of Enterprise Ireland's Overseas Entrepreneurship, said that while the scheme did not specifically target one particular region, it was only natural that it is looking to attract companies away from London. The Irish Independent
UK house prices fell in September and will at best stagnate over the next year, Nationwide Building Society said. The average cost of a home dropped 0.4 per cent from August, the Swindon, England-based customer-owned lender said in an e-mailed report today. From a year earlier, values fell 1.4 per cent to an average £163,964 (E205,284).
The property market remains under pressure as the economy struggles to recover from a recession, undermining consumer confidence, and banks curtail lending to strengthen balance sheets. The Bank of England will probably maintain the size of its bond-buying plan this week as officials assess the impact of their Funding for Lending Scheme aimed at boosting credit. "Labour-market developments will remain of paramount importance in deciding the trajectory of house prices," Nationwide chief economist Robert Gardner said.
"There are grounds for caution on this front, as the unusual combination of rising employment and declining economic activity that was evident in the first half of 2012 is unlikely to be sustained." In the third quarter, house prices fell 0.5 per cent compared with the previous three months, according to a separate Nationwide report. London remained the UK's most expensive location, with Northern Ireland the cheapest. The Irish Times
AIB repaid a E1 billion bond to investors yesterday as an October 2009 bond came to maturity. The unsecured, unguaranteed senior bond also carried a fixed interest rate of 4.5 per cent, which was paid annually in arrears. The final year's interest was paid yesterday, equating to an estimated E45 million.
The repayment of the bond attracted criticism from some opposition politicians as well as small-scale protests from a number of groups in Dublin. The E1 billion bond was issued by the bank in 2009 as part of its E30 billion floating rate note programme which commenced in 2007. The biggest disclosed holders of the bond which matured yesterday included Swiss private banks Lombard Odier, Pictet Asset Management, Portuguese bank Banco Espirito Santo, Allianz Global Investors France, Aberdeen Asset Management and First Eagle Investment Management.
Investors received the full 100 cents in the euro on their investment. At its low in February 2011, the bond traded below 75 cents in the euro. AIB and the EBS, which have been merged, have approximately E1 billion in further senior, unsecured bonds due to be redeemed before 2017, with the last AIB bond of this kind due for repayment at the end of 2014. Yesterday's repayment brought to more than E18 billion the amount that banks have repaid to all classes of bondholders this year. The Irish Times
Small businesses and farmers are coming under renewed pressure from banks who are using new, tougher tactics to skirt changes to bankruptcy law. The Personal Insolvency Bill 2012 reduces the length of bankruptcy from 12 years to three years, meaning people are discharged from their debts automatically after that time. It is aimed primarily at people with unmanageable personal debts but the Irish Independent has learned that banks are circumventing the process by registering a charge against a person's business if they default on their mortgage.
The process works as follows. An SME owner has a E200,000 mortgage from Bank A on a second home that he cannot pay. The bank seizes that home and sells it off for E150,000, leaving a shortfall of E50,000. Instead of then moving to bankrupt the person, Bank A registers a charge against the SME owner's business for the E50,000. As a charge remains on an asset for up to 10 years, there is a far greater chance of the money being paid back than if the bank puts the person into bankruptcy. If the business is financed by a different bank, that charge then supersedes any other debts the business may have.
Therefore the SME's lender is unlikely to provide further financing, which could potentially put it out of business. Banking sources emphasised that the tactic was completely legal. "We have to remember that most of the banks are in state hands so they have a legal duty to get as much money back as they can," he said. The Irish Independent
Pre-tax profits at the insurance firm that former Tanaiste Mary Harney (above) has joined as a director declined by 15.5pc last year to E33.5m. Ms Harney was appointed to the board of Euro Insurances in February. New accounts show revenues declined in the 12 months to the end of December last by 29pc -- from E208.8m to E146.7m. Pre-tax profits fell from E39.6m to E33.5m.
The former health minister is one of five board members on the Dutch-owned firm that paid E34.6m in dividends to its shareholders last year. Last Friday, the Department of Finance confirmed that Ms Harney received ministerial pension payments of E69,305 last year. Ms Harney holds two other directorships in commercial companies Ward Research & Development and the related Ward Biotech. The principal activity of the Dublin-based Euro Insurances is the insuring/ re-insuring the motor damage and third-party liability risk of group companies and third-party clients. The Irish Independent