Today in the press

Monday 20 January 2014 09.29
A look at some of today's business stories in the newspapers
A look at some of today's business stories in the newspapers

DAVY STOCKBROKERS SCOOPS €1.4m IN NATIONAL LOTTERY SALES FEES - Davy Stockbrokers will earn €1.4m in fees for its role advising the Government on the privatisation of the National Lottery, writes the Irish Independent. The right to run the lottery will be signed over to Premier Lotteries Ireland later this year under a €405m privatisation deal struck in October. Davy was appointed to advise the Government on the sale process in October 2012. Public Sector Expenditure and Reform Minister Brendan Howlin confirmed Davy's fees, and said it represented value for money. "It (the fee) was in the order of €1.4m, I think it was, and when you see that the sale price that we got was €405m, to do that well was important," Mr Howlin told the Oireachtas Sub Committee on Public Expenditure and Reform this week. "It was a successful use of the skills base to supplement the internal departmental skills base that we have," he said, referring to Davy's role. The successful bid for the Irish licence was reportedly double the size of the second highest offer. The price being paid for the 20-year rights is also well above the €250m to €350m analysts had forecast.

***
REPUBLIC'S LONG-TERM MORTGAGE ARREARS TO PEAK THIS YEAR - SAYS FITCH - The number of homeowners more than three months behind with their mortgage repayments is likely to peak this year after hitting a high in the closing months of 2013, according to the latest analysis from ratings agency Fitch. In the last quarter of last year, 18% of all those with residential mortgages in the Republic were three months or more in arrears, a report published today by Fitch Ratings says. The figure was a new high and was almost two percentage points up on the 16.2% recorded in the final quarter of 2012, says the Irish Times. The growth was driven primarily by those who were one year or more behind with their repayments. Andrew Currie, managing director at Fitch’s structured finance team, expects the number of borrowers in long-term mortgage arrears to peak this year. “There has been a slowdown in the number of new borrowers getting into mortgage distress,” said Mr Currie. “Recent legislative changes provide lenders with more certainty that they have effective tools to handle the most unco-operative borrowers. “The combination of fewer new arrears cases and our expectation of a slow pick-up in loan workouts means the peak in late-stage arrears is now close.”

***
CAMERON FACES EU ISOLATION ON ANTI-IMMIGRATION STANCE - David Cameron risks “damaging Europe” with his anti-immigration stance, according to some of Britain’s allies, leaving the prime minister looking isolated in his attempts to restrict free movement in the EU. Ministers and officials from several EU powers told the Financial Times they would resist Mr Cameron’s attempts to restrict the ability of citizens from new member states to travel freely across the union. Germany looks poised to become the most powerful opponent of Mr Cameron’s plans. Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the new German foreign minister, has even accused the UK prime minister of posing a threat to German interests with his push to reform the principle of free movement. Mr Steinmeier said: “Germany has benefited tremendously from this and surely more than others. Now many young people from southern Europe are coming to us, to learn and study. That benefits us and also helps the states from which they come. Whoever questions that damages Europe and damages Germany.” Free movement was an undeniable part of European integration that could not be changed or renegotiated, he said.

***
LEGAL & GENERAL WANTS TO CREATE FIVE NEW TOWNS IN UK IN NEXT 10 YEARS - Insurance group Legal & General wants to build five new towns across Britain over the next 10 years at a cost of up to £5 billion, according to its chief executive. Today's Guardian says that the firm, which manages £440 billion in assets globally, said building new towns and regenerating inner cities was the best way of addressing Britain's housing crisis, and would also meet L&G's aim of investing more of its pension fund in infrastructure. "If we can bring communities with us and agree planning, we'd like to help build several new towns across the country. We're already developing towns within cities, in partnership with enlightened local authorities and boroughs," L&G's boss Nigel Wilson told the Sunday Times. Wilson also said the UK government should scrap the Help to Buy mortgage deposit scheme in London to prevent house prices from spiralling out of control. In a Sunday Telegraph interview, he said the scheme risked stoking a price bubble that would put homes out of the reach of all but the most affluent. He argued house prices had reached absurd levels and said the scheme, which supports mortgages for houses up to £600,000, was pushing up demand at a time when the supply of affordable housing was the problem.

Keywords: presswatch