Today in the press

Wednesday 30 January 2013 09.34
A look at some of today's business stories in the newspapers
A look at some of today's business stories in the newspapers

HOMEOWNERS TO BE HIT WITH WATER CHARGE BASED ON SIZE OF THEIR HOUSE - Homeowners face the controversial prospect of paying for their water based on the size of their home, rather than their estimated usage. People with bigger houses face paying a higher temporary water charge than those with smaller homes from next year. The Irish Independent has now learnt an "assessed charge" - which will have to be paid until water meters are installed - is likely to be based on the physical size of a home, rather than the number of people in it. Sources involved in establishing the water tax say this is because it will be "impossible to police" the number of people living in a home, and it said "it is moving the way of property type". The charge could be as much as €400 a year, but "nobody will pay a flat rate", one source said. Information on properties - and the initial tax to be paid - could be gleaned from databases that exist from the €100 household charge and the property tax, once it has been fully established from this summer. Irish Water, the new body set up to collect the charges, will have access to records held by the Revenue Commissioners and the Local Government Management Agency.

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QUINN DAUGHTER WITHDREW €340,000 VIA ATMs - Ciara Quinn, a daughter of bankrupt businessman Seán Quinn, has said she withdrew almost €340,000 from her Russian bank account via cash withdrawals from ATMs here in the space of a year, with most of that going to pay legal fees. She has no documents concerning those withdrawals or payments made from July 2011, she said. The Irish Times says that Ms Quinn was also asked about an “extraordinary” series of withdrawals totalling €5,000 from her Ocean Bank account in Moscow, made via ATMs in Blanchardstown, Dublin, in less than 20 minutes on May 25th, 2012. Shane Murphy SC, for Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), asked about the purpose of withdrawals of €500 each at 16.08pm, 16.10pm and 16.11pm; of €600 each at 16.18pm and 16.19pm; €1,500 at 16.24pm; and €800 at 16.27pm. Hugh Hartnett SC, for the Quinns, objected such questions strayed into issues to be addressed in the full hearing of the legal action by IBRC, formerly Anglo Irish Bank, against various Quinn family members and others alleging stripping of assets from the Quinns’ International Property Group (IPG).

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GREENCORE BOSS DEFENDS PAY LEVELS - Greencore’s new chairman has defended the high executive pay levels at the food group by saying the business has to compete with its peers in order to retain top talent. Gary Kennedy did not take over from outgoing chairman, Ned Sullivan until after yesterday’s AGM, but was called upon by irate shareholders for his view on the high remuneration packages and the comparison with other Irish companies, writes the Irish Examiner. In Greencore’s last financial year - covering the 12 months to the end of September - CEO Patrick Coveney saw his remuneration top £1.46m (€1.7m), while chief financial officer, Alan Williams, saw his jump from £463,000 to £813,000. Mr Kennedy - a former finance director at AIB and a current director with Elan and IBRC - echoed the views of Mr Sullivan from earlier in the AGM, but he said Greencore’s peers were now international companies rather than just Irish plcs, and noted that Deloitte had been taken on to advise on remuneration trends. Chairing his final AGM as Greencore chair, Mr Sullivan said remuneration was in line with company performance and it was “overwhelmingly in the interests of shareholders” that the group could compete for top executive talent. Asked about dividend policy - the latest annual payout of 4.25p marked a near 25% increase on the previous year - Mr Sullivan said that it is, and will be, kept under review. He said, however, that the company’s main focus remains on deleveraging.

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WIDER EURO ‘TOBIN TAX’ WILL NET €35 BILLION - The eurozone’s biggest economies would raise €30-€35 billion from their planned levy on financial transactions, according to an expansive European Commission proposal that ensnares trades executed in London, New York or Hong Kong. The revised and strengthened Brussels draft plan, seen by the Financial Times, sets the stage for France, Germany and nine other euro area countries to agree the exact terms of Europe’s first so-called “Tobin tax” on equity, bond and derivative transactions. Brussels’ drive for a Europe-wide tax opened an irreconcilable rift between EU members, forcing a euro zone vanguard to forge a smaller transaction tax bloc covering two-thirds of EU economic output but excluding the City of London. This long-awaited Brussels blueprint, to be published within weeks, is the basis for talks between the 11 states, who no longer need permission to implement the levy from opponents such as Britain or Sweden. The draft, prepared by the EU tax commissioner Algirdas Semeta, casts a wider net than expected by adding anti-avoidance measures to the original plan for an EU-wide levy, so that financial business does not decamp to safe havens. Under the plan, a levy of 0.1% on stock and bond trades and 0.01% on derivatives is imposed on any transaction involving one financial institution with its headquarters in the tax area, or trading on behalf of a client based in the tax area.

Keywords: presswatch