Today in the pressTuesday 31 December 2013 08.23
REWARD FOR INVESTORS AS IRISH BONDS AMONG TOP PERFORMERS IN THE WORLD - Irish bonds were among the top performing this year, according to a second gauge in a week. Two separate rankings in recent days have shown the extent to which the country's debt offering has become more attractive, writes the Irish Independent. Irish bonds handed investors some of the best returns out of 34 countries, according to data from Bloomberg's World Bond Indexes released yesterday, as the Government continued to meet the targets laid down by the troika and then successfully exited the EU/IMF bailout programme earlier this month. Ireland recorded a 12% gain, making it the second best performer in the list. Greece was the star of the show, however, earning a massive 47% year-to-date return. A separate gauge revealed just before Christmas, and which excludes Greece because its credit rating is too low, shows that Irish government bonds are close to marking their second year as the eurozone's top performing debt. Running close behind, and potentially still with a chance to top the charts in terms of total annual returns at the end of the year, are Spanish bonds, according to data compiled on Markit's iBoxx EUR benchmark index, one of the most tracked bond indexes by investors worldwide.
QUNIN FAMILY SET TO CHALLENGE IBRC ACT - The family of former billionaire Seán Quinn are preparing to challenge the constitutionality of the IBRC Act to prevent the sale of their assets to a third party or the transfer of their loans into the National Asset Management Agency, reports the Irish Times. The Quinn family and their legal advisers are, according to an informed source, focusing their attention on section 12 of the IBRC Act, which relates to “the sale or transfer of any asset or liability by IBRC”. The family has asked its legal advisers Whitney Moore and Arthur McLean Solicitors to review this section of the Act with a view to mounting a legal challenge against it in the first quarter of 2014. Part of section 12 of the IBRC Act refers explicitly to the area of loans made by IBRC that fall under the area of section 60 of the Companies Act, which prevents financial institutions lending to support their own shares. The IBRC Act states that the “validity and enforceability” of such loans “may not be challenged.” The Quinn family believes that this section of the Act may violate their constitutional rights. They believe that IBRC, formerly Anglo Irish Bank, lent them hundreds of millions in 2008 in order to support its own share price, a move which was in breach of section 60 and that therefore Minister for Finance Michael Noonan overstepped his powers by including their loans as coming under the IBRC Act.
IRISH MUSICIANS SHARE €32.4m ROYALTIES BONANZA - Musicians including U2, Paul Brady and Christy Moore, along with thousands of other Irish musicians, last year shared €32.4m from the public performance and broadcast of their songs. This follows the Irish Music Rights Organisation - which collects royalties on behalf of the artists concerned - confirming that licence revenues last year increased by €379,178, or over 1%, to €36.8m says the Irish Examiner. The IMRO directors’ report states that “public performance and overseas revenue contributed largely to this increase”. The amount in royalties paid out to artists last year increased from €32.15m to €32.42m. The organisation has 8,500 members. However, the figures show that IMRO is in a deficit position following its spend on a refurbishment to its Copyright House on Dublin’s Lower Baggott Street in 2008. The organisation was sitting on an accumulated deficit of €2m at the end of last year.
CIGARS FACE EXTINCTION IN BRITAIN BY 2026 - The era when deals in the City of London were sealed amid a fug of late-night cigar smoke is drawing to a close. Over the past five years cigar consumption has fallen a fifth - and plummeted 80% in the past two decades. On current trends, the cigar will all but disappear from Britain by 2026 says the Financial Times. The glamour of cigars - as epitomised by politicians and film stars, from Winston Churchill to Clint Eastwood - has been extinguished as smoking bans, coupled with ever higher rates of duty, have taken their toll. While Britons bought 2.1m kg of cigars in 1992, last year they bought just 0.4m kg, according to figures from HM Revenue & Customs. The decline shows few signs of stopping. The value of the UK cigar market fell a fifth between 2007 and 2012 to £429.4m, according to research firm Euromonitor. The introduction of a smoking ban in all enclosed work places in the UK in 2007 was particularly bad for sales of large cigars, which can last over an hour and do not suit a furtive smoke in the cold. The number of large cigars sold in Britain fell 40% to 11.6m between 2007 and 2012, declining twice as fast as smaller cigarillos. Mass market cigars - machine-made and usually small - have also struggled as the number of their smokers in the UK drops. Imperial Tobacco, the UK’s second biggest tobacco company, estimates that there are about 300,000 regular cigar smokers left in Britain - down from 700,000 ten years ago.