Today in the press

Thursday 04 April 2013 08.37
A look at some of today's business stories in the newspapers
A look at some of today's business stories in the newspapers

BITCOIN BUBBLE GROWS AND GROWS - This time, Wall St is innocent. To the long list of asset bubbles - from tulips to the South Sea Company, from dotcom stocks to US housing - economic historians may soon be adding a virtual “currency” called Bitcoin. But while it is bankers who are most often blamed for blowing up bubbles, the rise and rise in the Bitcoin price has taken place without any such intervention, writes the Financial Times. A buying frenzy has sent the value of the total Bitcoin stock past $1.5 billion and the price of a single Bitcoin has doubled in less than two weeks. Having passed $100 on April 1, it peaked at $147 in the small hours of Wednesday morning. Untethered to any real asset, the Bitcoin’s price is determined only by speculation on exchanges around the world, the largest of which, Mt Gox, reported technical difficulties on Wednesday as interest rocketed. “Trading tulips in real time,” declared the veteran UBS stockbroker Art Cashin in a note to clients. “It is rare that we get to see a bubble-like phenomenon trade tick for tick, but all that may be changing before our very eyes.”

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STAFF AT IBRC REFUSE TO WORK ON TRANSFER OF ASSETS TO NAMA - Workers at the former Anglo Irish Bank are refusing to co-operate with any of the paperwork needed to transfer billions of euro worth of assets to NAMA or Capita Asset Services, the Irish Independent has learned. The move could potentially delay the liquidation process for the state-owned bank which still controls as much as €14 billion of assets, mostly loans backed by property. Staff are angry at the "lack of progress" on several issues, primarily the loss of their redundancy packages after the bank was liquidated, according to the Irish Bank Officials Association (IBOA). IBRC is currently seeking to secure agreement with borrowers to redeem their debts, and if that fails the loans will be transferred to the State's toxic loans agency NAMA. A spokesman for the IBOA said its members had withdrawn some services this week - specifically on dealing with the transfer of assets to NAMA and the outside agency. The union stressed the staff are performing other duties as normal, including any activities surrounding litigation matters. "They've taken this decision because of the lack of progress on a number of issues but primarily the issue of compensation for severance," the spokesman said. Employees want their former redundancy packages to be reinstated, and have held a number of meetings with the special liquidators .

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ROYALTY PHARMA GIVEN MAY DEADLINE TO MAKE FIRM OFFER FOR ELAN - Royalty Pharma must make an offer for Elan by May 10th or announce it will not proceed, the Irish Takeover Panel said yesterday. The decision was made following representations by Elan and correspondence with advisers to both companies, the panel said in a statement yesterday. The deadline pressures New York-based Royalty to make a formal offer, following an “indicative proposal” on February 25th to buy Elan for about $6.5 billion (€5.06 billion), or $11 per American depository receipt. Elan chief executive Kelly Martin has said he doesn’t view the offer as credible. “The board of Elan welcomes this morning’s imposition by the Irish Takeover Panel of an expected May 10th, 2013, deadline,” Elan said in a statement. “Elan’s focus remains on implementation of its stated strategy.” The offer may threaten Elan’s plans, acknowledged in February, to embark on its own acquisitions to be funded through the sale of its stake in the Tysabri multiple sclerosis drug to Biogen Idec. Elan’s board has spurned Royalty Pharma’s efforts to conduct due diligence to facilitate a bid, Royalty Pharma said yesterday in a statement.

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RECOVERING QUINN'S RUSSIAN ASSETS ''MAY HELP TRADE RELATIONS'' - Ireland’s ambassador to Russia, Philip McDonagh, said recovering assets related to the Quinn family may help trade relations between the two nations, reports the Irish Examiner. Four months ago, IBRC, formerly Anglo, which has since been liquidated, said it was starting a joint venture with A1, a unit of billionaire Mikhail Fridman’s Alfa Group, to recoup property assets in Russia and Ukraine accumulated by the Quinn family. Mr McDonagh said recovering the assets is of “paramount importance” and A1 president Mikhail Khabarov said he was “confident” it could be done. “These assets belong to a nationalised bank and ultimately they belong to the Irish Government and every Irish person,” Mr McDonagh told reporters in Moscow. Seán Quinn Sr, his son Seán, and nephew Peter Quinn placed assets outside the reach of the nationalised lender after a court ordered them to stop last year, High Court Judge Elizabeth Dunne said in June. The IBRC had a “number of unsolicited offers” from banks and other parties because the assets are attractive, according to senior manager Stephen Kenny. “A competitive tender wouldn’t have worked,” he said at the briefing. “The bank sought internal and external advice. It was important we got a partner suitable for a state-owned entity.”

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Keywords: presswatch