Today in the pressFriday 17 May 2013 15.19
COMPLIANCE NOT ''CATCH-THEM-OUT CULTURE'' REQUIRED - RICHARD BRUTON - The Companies Bill and measures pushed by the Irish presidency of the European Union will create “a compliance culture rather than a catch-them-out culture”, according to Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton. Opening a two-day conference on corporate governance in Dublin, the Minister said the lesson of recent business scandals was that good corporate governance was “not merely a desirable add-on” for companies - it was also key to their long-term survival. The Irish Times says that the Companies Bill removes a range of regulations for private companies, including the obligation to have two directors and the requirement to hold a physical agm. “Alongside this, a range of improvements will mean clearer and more transparent corporate governance rules, such as a codification of the duties of directors,” he said. A range of accountancy reforms have also recently been agreed by the EU, while the Irish presidency has held discussions on updating the audit directive. Speaking after the event, Mr Bruton said more reforms were necessary. “We need to implement some of the changes like having broader, more representative boards, like having better opportunities for citizens to scrutinise what’s happening.” On the issue of British MPs’ growing hostility to the low tax contributions of large US corporations such as Amazon and Google, Mr Bruton said “the complex interaction between tax codes in a number of states” had been exposed.
DEVELOPER KELLEHER IN BID TO RESTART BUILDING OF CHICAGO SPIRE - Developer Garrett Kelleher is vying to restart construction at a site in Chicago where he originally planned to build one of the world's tallest buildings - the $2 billion (€1.5 billion) Spire, writes the Irish Independent. The businessman, spotted in Dublin yesterday, is understood to have been in contact with NAMA about acquiring the near-$93m (€72m) debt that the state body now owns and which is attached to the site. NAMA declined to comment yesterday, while Mr Kelleher,wasn't contactable. Mr Kelleher's Shelbourne Development launched an ambitious plan in 2007 to construct the 2,000ft, 150-storey Spire. But while a 76ft-deep hole was dug on the site, the project stalled in 2008 amid the economic crisis. He had hired Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava to design the striking building. However, that relationship soured after Mr Calatrava filed a lawsuit against Shelbourne in 2008 claiming he was still owed €11m for his work on the project. In 2010, Mr Kelleher lost control of the Spire site after Anglo Irish Bank secured the appointment of a receiver to it. While NAMA owns the debt attached to the site, Mr Kelleher retains title to the land. He had originally borrowed about $70m from Anglo to buy the land, but the amount owed has since risen to $93m.
CITI REMOVES FOREX TRADERS FROM BLOOMBERG INTERNAL CHAT GROUPS - Citigroup is stopping traders in its foreign exchange division from using internal chat groups on their Bloomberg terminals, in the latest sign of concern by banks over online security issues. The Financial Time says that Bloomberg has come under fire over the past week from some of its largest clients over concerns that its journalists accessed private details regarding how they used its powerful financial data terminals. Citi said the decision to close the Bloomberg chat rooms had been taken before the recent complaints were made. “This move has been in the works for some time and is unrelated to recent issues,” the US bank said. The US bank will move its traders, many of whom are based in London or New York, on to an internal platform to share information by the end of the month. Traders will still be allowed to use Bloomberg’s instant messaging service to contact each other internally and to contact people outside the bank. Bankers have long expressed concern that confidential client information could be leaked via chat rooms and use of instant messaging, which is a popular tool for traders to communicate with clients and even agree prices for trades. Citi said shutting those chat groups would increase security and had the advantage that not everyone would need a terminal to access live internal information about clients’ trading activities - a sign that the bank is also seeking to reduce costs. Bloomberg charges up to $20,000 a year for the use of a terminal and almost all traders at investment banks have sole use of a terminal at their desk.
VIRGIN BLAMES A SECOND YEAR OF LOSSES ON THE OLYMPICS - Virgin Atlantic slumped to a £93m loss for the 12 months to March, the second consecutive year of major losses, with Sir Richard Branson's airline blaming the Olympics for "severely denting demand for business travel". The London Independent said that the final group loss was a slightly better £69.9m, which includes the addition of the £35m contingency cash that the airline had set aside after an investigation into price-fixing, which was then not called upon, and £23.1m licensing income from the Virgin America and Virgin Australia carriers. Virgin managed to increase revenues by 5% to £2.87 billion for the year to March, and passenger numbers rose slightly to 5.5 million. But Craig Kreeger, the new chief executive, who has frozen wages as part of his attempt to return the airline to profit in two years, said: "Last year saw a double-dip recession, a continued weak macro economy and an Olympic Games which, although a fantastic event, severely dented demand for business travel." However, its rival British Airways, a part of International Airlines Group, which ran a campaign for Britons to "stay at home" during the Olympics, made an operating profit of €347m (£292m) in 2012.