Thursday, January 24 08:13:59
Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte and Ed Davey, his opposite number in the British government, are due to sign the long-awaited memorandum of understanding that will pave the way for Irish wind farms to export directly to Britain.
The memorandum is the product of well over a year of talks between the two governments. Essentially, it will set out in broad terms an agreement that will allow Irish-based wind farms to hook directly into Britain's national electricity grid, where they will be able to sell power.
A number of big ticket projects, geared specifically at taking advantage of such a deal, are already in the early stages of planning.
The industry generally has been arguing that a deal will provide the trigger for billions of euro in investment with the potential to create tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of jobs.
The memo that will be formally signed today is really just the first stage.
The next requires a full intergovernmental agreement, and possibly some form of supporting legislation on both sides of the Irish Sea.
There are technical and planning issues to be sorted. One example is the fact that the process of getting a foreshore licence in the Republic can be long, and the guidelines are not clear.
All players will need this permit, as they will be laying their own cables across the Irish Sea to connect with the British grid.
Another will be the ownership of the networks. The private developers will be connecting their windfarms to Britain, effectively establishing their own networks, but only the State can own electricity networks, so they will have to transfer ownership on commercial terms. The Irish Times
The global recovery is likely to gather momentum this year and next, but at a slightly slower pace than seemed likely three months ago, the International Monetary Fund predicted yesterday.
Without any signs of an end to the "two-speed" world economy - with emerging economies powering ahead while high-income countries languish in the slow lane - the fund called for action to boost confidence and growth in advanced countries.
"Policy actions have lowered acute crisis risks in the euro area and the United States. But in the euro area, the return to recovery after a protracted contraction is delayed," the update to the fund's world economic outlook concluded.
It noted that the latest data for the third-quarter of 2012 were strong but this good news "masked old and new areas of weakness", while output in peripheral euro zone countries and in Japan was even weaker than the fund had expected.
The IMF trimmed its 2013 forecast for global growth to 3.5 per cent from the 3.6 per cent it projected in October, but said it looked for expansion of 4.1 per cent in 2014 if the euro zone recovery takes a firm hold.
It said the world economy grew 3.2 per cent last year. The Irish Times
For the first time in over a decade, Irish packaging group Smurfit Kappa has no major private equity giants as stakeholders in the firm.
Private equity giant Cinven confirmed yesterday that it had offloaded its entire remaining stake in Smurfit Kappa. The sale came with the Irish group's shares trading at a more than five-year high.
The company told the Stock Exchange yesterday that Cinven, which held its stock through a fund called Cinven SK Feeder, sold just under 7.4 million shares on Monday, bringing to nil the number of shares it now holds.
Those shares would have been placed with institutions. Smurfit Kappa stock closed up 1.9pc in Dublin yesterday at E10.19, having earlier been more than 3pc higher.
The company also said that it had sold E400m of senior secured notes that mature in 2020.
That's more than the E300m it had said on Tuesday that it hoped to raise.
Cinven's sale means that three private equity groups that had been stakeholders in Smurfit Kappa have now exited. The Irish Independent
A mountain of documents - 24 million - will have to be examined before the former Anglo Irish Bank chairman Sean FitzPatrick and two senior executives can go on trial, a court has heard.
Mr FitzPatrick, former finance director Willie McAteer and former managing director Pat Whelan appeared before the Circuit Court in Dublin yesterday. A provisional trial date has been set for January 2014.
Mr FitzPatrick (64), Mr McAteer (61) and former managing director of lending Mr Whelan (50) face 16 charges of providing unlawful financial assistance to individuals in July 2008 to buy shares in the bank.
The court heard it was a complex case and legal teams needed time for documents to be disclosed, studied and culled.
Brendan Grehan, for Mr McAteer, said the trial could take a minimum of three months. He said 24 million documents would have to be considered as part of the State's investigation, and issues will inevitably arise as part of this.
"It will be considerably more complex than any previous case," he said. The Irish Independent
Thomas Mann set 'The Magic Mountain', his 1930s masterpiece about the decay of Europe, in the small village of Davos high in the Swiss Alps.
Tomorrow evening, Enda Kenny will join around 50 other heads of state in the same ski resort to speak, listen and network for four days and nights.
Other Irish guests invited this year include former President Mary Robinson and Finance Minister Michael Noonan, fresh from his latest efforts to reach a deal on Irish debt in Brussels.
It is all a long way from Mann's story of inmates in a TB sanatorium, but as the heads of state mingle with one another and some of the world's most powerful business tycoons, many will be conscious that the current political situation bears worrying parallels with the economic instability that ultimately triggered World War Two.
From an Irish perspective, the most interesting event is likely to be Enda Kenny's appearance on stage with various eurozone worthies tomorrow morning.
Mr Kenny made a mess of his 2012 appearance in Davos when he told his audience that everybody in Ireland was to blame for the crisis, weeks after he had said the opposite in an address to the nation.
It was a painful and humiliating lesson for a relatively new Taoiseach, but he learnt a useful lesson: that the world is a small place and he had better devise some sort of version of our recent history that plays as well in Boston and Berlin as Ballycotton. The Irish Independent