NO OTHER BANK PLANNING AIB-STYLE DEBT WRITE-OFF - None of the other major banks in Ireland are planning on following AIB’s steps and offering customer a debt write-off in limited circumstances, reports the Irish Examiner. While all of the main Irish banks are bound by the mortgage arrears resolution targets which force them to offer sustainable solutions to 75% of mortgage holders in arrears by June of this year, none of the other pillar lenders are offering debt write-offs. A spokesperson for Ulster Bank put it bluntly saying that the bank simply “does not have a policy of writing off debt.” Bank of Ireland said that it had a full range of options for customers in arrears, but did not elaborate on whether it would be allowing debt write-offs. “Supporting our customers in financial difficulty is a key priority for Bank of Ireland and our aim is to provide sustainable treatments for our customers facing financial difficulty or who are already in arrears. The bank has a comprehensive menu of forbearance treatments including a split mortgage option,” a spokesperson said. PTSB similarly stated it had no problems with the existing arrears solutions that it had in place. “Permanent TSB keeps its split mortgage offering, which warehouses a portion of a mortgage in a separate facility that incurs no interest, under review but has no current plans to amend it.
CHINESE BANK ESTABLISHES AIRCRAFT LEASING ARM IN REPUBLIC - One of China’s largest banks is establishing an aircraft leasing arm in the Republic. Aircraft finance specialist Bank of Communications Financial Leasing (JY Aviation), is opening its European headquarters in Dublin, from where it will manage 21 aircraft, says the Irish Times. The company is the leasing arm of Bank of Communications, one of the Asian country’s biggest finance institutions, which is headquartered in Shanghai. Luo Le, who is heading up the Irish operation, said the bank planned to add another 15 to 20 craft to its fleet through acquiring them, by sale and leaseback arrangements or financial lease. He added that the company was in the process of recruiting staff for commercial, technical and legal roles. Bank of Communications Financial Leasing is the third such operation lured to the Republic by industrial development agency IDA Ireland in the last 18 months. ICBC Leasing established its European headquarters in Dublin in 2012. The company manages more than 360 aircraft from its Irish operation. It is the leasing arm of ICBC Bank, the world’s biggest bank by total assets and capitalisation and one of China’s Big Four state-owned commercial financial institutions.
IDA DOESN'T INVEST A SINGLE CENT IN EIGHT COUNTIES - The level of state aid from the IDA and Enterprise Ireland for companies varies widely across the country, new figures suggest. The IDA paid out €89m to companies across the country in 2012 but spent nothing in Cavan, Clare, Kilkenny, Laois, Longford, Monaghan, Sligo and Tipperary, says the Irish Independent. Some €3.9m was spent in these counties in 2011. In 2012 in Cork, the semi-state agency paid out €14.3m to companies. Firms in Carlow received €9.5m, while Donegal received €6.2m. A spokesman for the IDA said a large number of IDA Ireland projects go ahead without any grant aid assistance. "As a result, grant patterns in a particular county reveal little about the overall marketing activity or support provided for a particular county or, more importantly, for a particular region," the spokesman said. "IDA Ireland offers a wide range of incentives - both through its services and in monetary form - in order to attract companies to locate in Ireland." The data was compiled in a response to a parliamentary question from Sinn Fein finance spokesman Pearse Doherty.
BURGERS SPARK FRENCH REVOLUTION IN FOOD - The jambon beurre, the once-ubiquitous ham baguette, has a new rival for the status of France’s snack of choice: the all-American hamburger. The country that gave the world haute cuisine munched through a staggering 970m hamburgers last year, almost half of all sandwiches sold, according to a study published on Wednesday, writes the Financial Times. In 2007, burger sales accounted for just one in seven sandwiches sold. The explosion in burger sales will doubtless spark some soul-searching in a country where gastronomy has long been a point of pride but where sales at fast food outlets in 2012 outpaced those of traditional sit-down restaurants for the first time. It will also likely add to growing concerns among some French lawmakers and food-standards groups, who complain that culinary standards are sliding. Last month, France’s parliament passed the fait maison or “home-made” law, which will force restaurant owners to label more clearly how each dish on their menu is prepared. The law, expected to go into force in March, is designed to halt the rise of increasingly pre-prepared dishes as restaurant owners turn to agro-industry and off-premises catering services to offset falling sales caused by France’s economic malaise.