EU PROPOSAL TO INCREASE NUMBER OF WOMEN ON COMPANY BOARDS - The European Commission has published new draft legislation aimed at increasing the proportion of women on the boards of publicly quoted companies in Europe from its lamentable current level of just under 14%. The new draft, however, drops a previous proposal that would have imposed a mandatory 40% female quota by 2020.

Maura Quinn, chief executive of the Institute of Directors Ireland, says that the European Commission proposal essentially puts women on the same playing pitch as men and the dropping of the mandatory quota means that women will be on company boards by merit. Ms Quinn notes that more women are training as chartered directors and that the EU proposal will affect about 60 companies here and around 5,000 in Europe. The proposal will put in place a proper and transparent recruitment process, which will give credibility to the boards of companies and will increase trust levels, she adds.

Ms Quinn says the proposal is not just about gender, but about assuring that boards are comprised of people with the right experience, expertise and talent. She quotes recent research which showed that 50% of respondents felt that representation on boards was very closed and really depended on who you knew. In order to avoid possible litigation, Ms Quinn says that companies will have to show proper diligence and transparency about how they reached their recruitment decisions.


MORNING BRIEFS - The switch off becomes the switch on later this morning as the Communications Regulator announces the results of the Multi-Band Spectrum Auction for the 800, 900 and 1800 MHz bands. This refers to the radio bandwidth which was used by the original generation of mobile phones and the bandwidth which was until very recently used to carry the analogue TV signal through the airwaves. The bandwidths will be used by the successful bidders to provide a range of new telecoms services. These will most likely include high-speed, high quality mobile internet.

*** A management statement by UTV Media to the stock exchange this morning predicts advertising revenue between now and the end of the year, the crucial Christmas period, will fall by 5% compared to the same period last year. UTV, which owns radio stations in the Republic including FM104, Live 95 in Limerick and LMFM, said ad revenues so far this year have been unchanged on 2011 levels.

*** The National Treasury Management Agency received a boost yesterday ahead of today's auction of short term Government debt known as treasury bills. The ratings agency Fitch yesterday upgraded Ireland's credit rank and moved Ireland off "negative'' outlook. It said the risks surrounding Ireland's creditworthiness had "narrowed" and that the Government's attempts to close the budget deficit and return the state to solvency were on track and in line with EU and IMF targets.