AL GORE'S INVESTMENT FIRM CUTS HOLDING IN KINGSPAN TO 10.4% - An investment firm co-founded by former US vice president Al Gore has cut its stake in Cavan-based insulation maker Kingspan. Generation Investment Management has reduced its holding in the Irish company to 10.4%, having sold one million shares in Kingspan since it last reported that it owned over 11% of the industrial firm, writes the Irish Independent. But the stake the Al Gore firm retains in Kingspan, whose chief executive is Gene Murtagh, still makes it the single biggest institutional shareholder in the company. According to Kingspan's annual report, Generation Investment Management held just over 20 million shares in Kingspan at the middle of July last year. That equated to an 11.98% holding in the company. Following the most recent share sales, Generation Investment Management is left with 17.7 million shares. That stake is worth €218m based on Kingspan's share price yesterday morning. Kingspan founder and non-executive chairman Eugene Murtagh holds 30 million shares, or a 17.6% stake in the company.
QUINNS SEEK ORDERS TO PREVENT SALE OR TRANSFER OF ASSETS TO NAMA - The family of bankrupt businessman Seán Quinn is seeking court orders to prevent multimillion euro assets in the Quinn group being sold off or moved into the National Asset Management Agency (Nama) by the end of this year, says the Irish Times. The Quinns claim they are the rightful owners of the assets and the special liquidator of State-owned Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC), formerly Anglo Irish Bank, is not entitled to transfer them to Nama or sell them by December 31st next as required by a direction of the Minister for Finance. IBRC special liquidator Kieran Wallace, in strongly opposing the “extraordinary” application, said the Quinns had established no basis for orders of “astonishing breadth and consequence” which, he said, would significantly prejudice the bank and the public interest. He said the Quinns had no claim to the assets taken over by IBRC and their application was pointless in circumstances where the Quinn companies were insolvent when the bank took them over in April 2011. The Quinns dispute Mr Wallace’s claims and contend various actions by IBRC and Mr Wallace have damaged the value of their companies and cost them millions. The hearing of the injunctions application opened yesterday and is listed for three days. Aoife Quinn, her husband Stephen Kelly and her brother Seán jnr were all in court.
EUROPEAN DARK POOL EQUITY TRADING JUMPS - Share trading on controversial off-exchange venues in Europe has risen 45% in the last six months, underlining their growing popularity with the region’s institutional investors, according to new research says the Financial Tims. A quarterly study by Fidessa, a UK trading technology company, found that the total volume of shares traded in Europe in the second and third quarter rose from €143 billion to €207 billion, even though the total amount of shares in that period traded stayed flat at around €4,807 billion. It also estimated that the average value of trade size rose from €6,639 to €9,150. The growing popularity of venues operated by companies such as UBS, Liquidnet, Turquoise and Chi-X Europe is set to provide further disputes with the region’s policy makers as they look to clamp down on so-called “dark pools”. These venues, in which prices are only displayed after a trade has been completed, are becoming an increasingly common way for investors wanting to deal in large blocks of shares without the market price moving against them or seeing their orders sliced into smaller sizes by computer algorithms. They now account for roughly 8% of all trading in Europe, just over half the levels of off-exchange trading in the US.
CHINA WILL BE ALLOWED TO BUY UK NUCLEAR POWER STATEIONS, OSBORNE SAYS - China could play an instrumental role in Britain's future nuclear power generation after George Osborne said companies in the world's second largest economy would be allowed to buy into the sector. The decision would pave the way for Chinese companies to take a stake in or own 100% of new British nuclear power stations, writes today's Guardian. The chancellor made the announcement at the Taishan nuclear power plant on the final day of his trade visit to China, which was aimed at strengthening the UK's business ties with the country. Chinese investment would likely begin with a minority stake in a power project, but over time the stakes in subsequent new power stations could become majority stakes, the government said. Osborne said it would pave the way for lower energy costs for British consumers. "Today is another demonstration of the next big step in the relationship between Britain and China - the world's oldest civil nuclear power and the world's fastest growing civil nuclear power," he said on Thursday. "It means the potential of more investment and jobs in Britain, and lower long-term energy costs for consumers." The move followed an agreement reached earlier in the week which would see civil nuclear collaboration between the UK and China on investment, technology, construction and expertise.