ECOFIN TO PUSH TAXING OF FINANCIAL TRANSACTIONS - Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has said Ireland could be the “honest broker” in discussions about the financial transactions tax during its presidency of the European Council, despite opting out of the proposal. He was speaking after chairing a meeting of finance ministers in Brussels at which 11 countries decided to proceed with the tax, writes the Irish Times. The proposal is expected to see the introduction of a new tax of 0.1% of the value of any trade in shares or bonds and 0.01% of any financial derivative contract. Ireland is one of 16 countries, which do not support it, but the other member states are proceeding with the tax on the grounds of “enhanced co-operation”, a procedure where at least nine members states can implement measures if agreement from all 27 member states is not reached. “Today was about process, it was about moving the financial transactions tax forward, through enhanced co-operation, but it wasn’t about the content or the substance of any financial transaction tax that may come in,” Mr Noonan said. The commission is due to bring forward a proposal as early as next month. Member states which don’t want to participate in the ultimate financial transaction tax will be fully involved,” Mr Noonan added, “and will participate fully in the discussions, so it’s still a process which will involve the 27 members.”
SHOP MALL RATHDOWNEY'S €11.7m DEBT IS FORGIVEN - The lenders to Rathdowney Shopping Outlet in Co Laois forgave an €11.7m loan owed by the struggling business as it closed its doors last year. New accounts for the company behind the failed centre, AWG Outlets, note that following a restructuring of its bank loan facility with the lender, Luxembourg-based Hadrian, a total of nearly €11.7m in borrowings was forgiven, reports today's Irish Independent. Hadrian is controlled by a number of businessmen including Marcus Rennie, a former senior lender with Anglo Irish, now Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC). Mr Rennie and a number of other individuals acquired a total of £300m (€358m) in face value loans from IBRC in 2011. Accounts for Hadrian for 2011 and filed last year, show that it made a £5m loan to an affiliated Scottish company called Calagus Capital in March 2011 with a 15% interest rate. Calagus Capital is controlled by investors including Mr Rennie and executives from US firm Elliott Associates, which backed the loan purchase from Anglo. Hadrian reveals that in conjunction with Calagus Capital, it paid about £150m to buy loans from Anglo Irish Bank in March 2011.
CORRIB GAS FIRM GETS €125m AS COSTS RISE - Shell Ireland has received a fresh cash injection of €125m from its parent to deal with the spiralling costs of the Corrib gas field project, says the Irish Examiner. Documents filed with the Companies Registration Office confirm the additional monies as Shell Ireland confirmed yesterday that the current work on the 5km on-shore subterranean gas pipeline will take 15 months to complete. The Corrib gas partners, Shell, Statoil and Canadian-owned Vermilion are now 10 years behind the initial target to start generating revenues from the field, with Shell expecting gas to finally flow in late 2014-early 2015. Gas was originally expected to flow from the Mayo field in 2003, resulting in the project likely to be 12 years behind the original schedule, and the outlay on developing the field could be four times the initial estimate of €800m at over €3 billion. The documents confirming the cash injection show that the Shell E&P Ireland’s Ltd’s authorised capital now tops €879m. A spokeswoman for Shell E&P Ireland Ltd (SEPIL) said yesterday: “The €125m is to support Shell E&P Ireland Limited’s ongoing activities in Ireland.” She said: “2013 will be a busy year on the Corrib gas project. Tunnelling work commenced in recent weeks and is progressing well. It is expected to take approximately 15 months to complete.” SEPIL has confirmed that €250m was spent on the project last year with the same sum due to be spent by the partners in 2013.
MICROSOFT IN TALKS TO JOIN ANY DELL DEAL - Microsoft is in talks to join the investor group considering a buyout of computer maker Dell, according to a person familiar with the situation, writes the Financial Times. Financing for the deal, which would rank among the largest buyouts ever, continues to evolve as Dell founder and chief executive Michael Dell and private equity firm Silver Lake Partners work to find co-investors for the transaction, which could be worth as much as $25 billion. In the latest iteration, Microsoft would be a part of the capital structure, contributing over $1 billion in either mezzanine financing, equity, or both, this person said. Microsoft is a large supplier to Dell and would have an interest in stabilising the company, which has seen its share price steadily decline over the years. Yet its investment could complicate relations with other PC vendors, another person following the situation said. “They have unlimited cash and if they went into the junior debt, they would have attractive high single-digit returns,” said one credit investor. “They would also have a strategic toehold.” News of the potential buyout came as Dell shares traded near a 52-week low, leading many deal watchers to wonder if Mr Dell was orchestrating a buyout at a particularly opportunistic time. Investors who bought Dell shares when they were much higher are expected to be less than enthusiastic about the proposed go-private transaction.