EIB TO LEND €600m AT LOW RATES TO IRISH FIRMS IN 2013 - The European Investment Bank (EIB) expects to make €600m in low-cost loans to projects and companies in Ireland this year, its new vice-president Jonathan Taylor has told the Irish Independent. Mr Taylor and senior officials from the EU-controlled bank are in Dublin for a series of meetings, with the hope they can drum up interest in the bank's loans. The team from the Luxembourg-based EIB are today meeting separately with the three main economics ministers, Michael Noonan, Brendan Howlin and Richard Bruton. The news comes as the Government announced a €300m package of funding to suppport high-end scientific research. Identifying sectors where there are investment gaps that could be funded through the EIB, and removing any regulatory obstacles to investment are understood to be among the topics on the agenda. It is also Mr Taylor's first visit to Ireland since he took over as vice-president at the bank, where he is directly responsible for Irish lending. Last year the EIB and the Department of Finance set up a joint working committee to coordinate investment activity.
BUSINESSMAN SAYS TRANSACTION WAS NOT TAX AVOIDANCE MEASURE - A businessman is seeking to overturn a Revenue opinion notice which stated a complex financial transaction involving a tax advantage of €2.18 million to him was a tax avoidance transaction. The Irish Times says that Anthony Donlon has brought High Court proceedings over the Revenue’s treatment of the transaction, alleging its imposition of a tax liability on him amounts to an unjust attack on his constitutionally protected property rights. The Revenue had last November issued a Notice of Opinion, under Section 811 of the Taxes Consolidation Act, in respect of transactions lawfully entered into by Mr Donlon in late 2007. The notice expressed the view the transactions constituted a tax avoidance transaction with a total tax advantage of €2.18 million accruing to Mr Donlon. The Revenue had identified a number of cases in which identical or very similar arrangements were concluded via a London-based merchant bank, Schroders Co Ltd, and it referred to those as the “Schroders Ready-Made 26”. Mr Donlon, who appealed the opinion to Revenue, claims the two transactions involved Schroders Co and he had made a loss on one transaction and a profit on the other.
IRELAND RIPE FOR M&A SURGE, SAYS REPORT - Ireland is ripe for a surge in mergers and acquisitions as its economy starts to recover, in spite of fears that the eurozone recession is worsening, says a new report. The study came as Royalty Pharma launched its $6.6 billion bid for Dublin-based drug company Elan. Last week, Canadian life insurer Great-West Lifeco bid €1.3 billion for Irish Life, Ireland’s biggest life insurer which was nationalised during the financial crisis. A programme to sell Irish state assets combined with an economic recovery would help to fuel M&A activity in 2013, according to the report by law firm William Fry reports the Financial Times. It pointed to a pipeline of potential deals in the pharmaceutical, medical and biotechnology sectors this year, echoing findings from Mergermarket, the data provider, which said pharma deals were already outstripping those in other sectors this year. The value of mergers and acquisitions completed in Ireland increased 18% to €17.1 billion in 2012, reflecting improved corporate confidence in the country’s prospects, said the William Fry M&A Report. “Overseas buyers are not only focused on distress-driven opportunities. With its improved competitiveness, Ireland’s future within the euro is more certain than it was a year or two ago,” says William Fry.
UK BUILDERS BULLISH AFTER BOOST FROM BANK LENDING SCHEME - A shot in the arm for the mortgage market from the Bank of England's Funding for Lending (FLS) scheme and government initiatives left two of Britain's biggest housebuilders on distinctly bullish form yesterday, writes the London Independent. Persimmon, whose Charles Church family homes are in strongest demand, has pushed forward sales for 2013 past the £1 billion mark for the first time since the pre-credit crunch days of 2007. Visitors to its sites are already 4% ahead of last year, and cancellations are at historically low levels. Mike Farley, outgoing chief executive, said the FLS is pushing down lending rates while the FirstBuy schemes to help first-time buyers with deposits and NewBuy initiative to boost 95% mortgage loans is helping to unlock the lending market. Pre-tax profits were 52% ahead at £225.1m last year.