Today in the pressFriday 16 November 2012 11.16
CLEAREST SIGN YET OF CONFIDENCE AS INVESTORS DASH TO LEND STATE MONEY - Investors the bond markets have offered to lend €11 billion to borrowers in Ireland over the past week, in the clearest sign yet that confidence in the Irish State is close to being fully restored. The National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) raised €500m in short-term debt for the State yesterday. The 0.55% interest rate is the lowest investors have charged Ireland since March 2010, before the first Greek debt crisis and subsequent bailout spooked investor sentiment across much of the euro area. The NTMA said that investors put €2.06 billion on the table yesterday, four times the amount that the State wanted to borrow. The excess cash that investors indicated they were happy to lend is known as an "oversubscription". It was the third oversubscribed Irish deal this week. The money will be repaid in three months and is seen as 'low risk' by bond investors. The deal was the fourth of its kind this year, after the NTMA ventured back into the markets in July for the first time since the bailout in November 2010. Wary investors charged an initial interest rate of 1.8% at the July auction, but that has declined sharply to reach yesterday's low. The money on offer yesterday took the total that investors had put up for Irish bond deals to almost €11 billion for the week. Investors had indicated their willingness to lend €2.5 billion to Bank of Ireland when it raised €1 billion through a covered bond deal on Wednesday. That came after a massive €6 billion was made available to the ESB when it tapped the markets for a relatively modest €500m at the start of the week.
SWISS GROUP SOUGHT TO BUY QUINN ASSETS - The Irish Bank Resolution Corporation was approached in August about selling the foreign properties formerly owned by the Quinn family, according to agent of a Swiss asset management group, reports the Irish Times. Dr Thomas Borer said he was surprised by the lack of interest in his approach on behalf of Corestate Capital, which wanted to buy the assets from the bank, then set about seizing them through the Russian courts. The approach from Dr Borer was one of many private expressions of interest IBRC received over the past year. It decided early on that it would not offer the assets by way of public tender. The bank is entering into a deal with the Alfa Group, one of the largest private conglomerates in Russia, which involves the sharing of the proceeds of any assets recovered. The properties are worth up to $500 million, although they may be worth substantially less because of the Quinn asset-stripping scheme. Dr Borer, a former Swiss ambassador to Germany, wrote to IBRC's chief executive, Mike Aynsley, in August, saying he acted for clients who were interested in the Quinn assets. "I would like to find out if there is an interest on the part of the IBRC in selling these assets." Two weeks later he wrote to Stephen Kenny, an IBRC executive. By this stage he had revealed that he was acting for Corestate Capital, a Swiss asset management group with property assets of €2 billion. "Because of our extensive network and experience in Russia, and since we already executed similar transactions, we are convinced [we are in a] position to take over the assets."
DUNNES MUST FIT OUT STORE IN SEVEN OTHER TENANTS FOUND - A High Court decision means Dunnes Stores has to fit out its anchor store at Dublin's Point Village only after seven other tenants are secured for the development. Ms Justice Mary Laffoy yesterday delivered her detailed judgment on issues raised in the action by businessman Harry Crosbie's Point Village Developments company against Dunnes over the failure to fit out the anchor store. The matter has been adjourned for a week to allow both sides time to consider the implications of the judgment, writes the Irish Examiner. The case arose from agreements of February 2008 between Dunnes and Point Village Developments (PVD) for the building and operation of a flagship store at the site. The agreements originally involved Dunnes paying €46m, plus Vat, for certain works but disputes later arose between the parties. A settlement agreement of July 2010 effected variations to the original agreement, including the €46m sum being reduced to €31m. The parties later disagreed over the interpretation of the part of the 2010 settlement relating to the commencement date of the fitting out of the anchor store and that led to these proceedings. PVD had asked the court to order Dunnes to specifically perform the part of the settlement agreement relating to the fitting out and argued the fitting out was not dependent on other tenants being in place. Ms Justice Laffoy rejected arguments by PVD there was a mistake in the settlement agreement affecting the fitting-out provisions. That means the fit-out does not have to commence until seven other tenants are acquired.
BUSINESS ELITE DESPERATE TO KEEP MONTI - Italy is about to stage an intriguing political drama whose denouement will be decisive in shaping the future of the eurozone’s third-biggest economy - and Europe itself, says the Financial Times. Can a way be found for Mario Monti, the acclaimed but unelected prime minister, to continue in office without subverting Italy’s parliamentary democracy? Italy’s business elite is desperate for the 69-year-old economist to prolong his premiership. But parliamentary elections are due by April next year and - so far - Mr Monti is not a candidate. One leading Italian industrialist credits Mr Monti with four striking accomplishments in his year in office: he has injected reason into the political discourse; begun tackling the economy’s structural flaws; restored international investors’ confidence; and revived Italy’s reputation as a serious country. The industrialist says, if he were Pope, he would immediately beatify Mr Monti. A senior banker in Milan says: “Monti is like the doctor who can administer bitter medicine because you know the alternative is to be ill. People think that Monti is interested in all the people, not just one party and its supporters.” The trouble is that Mr Monti instinctively recoils at the thought of plunging into a political fight and gives the impression he would rather return to a top EU job in Brussels. The cerebral, wry former president of Milan’s Bocconi university is the polar opposite of his predecessor, Silvio Berlusconi, in almost every respect. Mr Monti’s natural habitat is the seminar room, not the circus ring that is Italian politics.