CENTRAL BANK PAID €11m FOR BALANCE SHEET ASSESSMENTS - The Central Bank paid €11 million to three consultants for the balance sheet assessments that were carried out on AIB, Bank of Ireland and Permanent TSB in the second half of last year as a condition of our exit from the EU-IMF bailout programme, says the Irish Times. Much of this work is now going to have to be repeated in the coming months as part of the European Central Bank’s comprehensive assessment of the health of banks’ balance sheets in the euro zone in advance of its assuming supervisory oversight in November. The money was paid by the Central Bank of Ireland to Boston Consulting Group, EY and KPMG. Boston was contracted as the independent assessor and provided project management resources. EY conducted the loan file and impairment model reviews of AIB and PTSB, while KPMG did similar work in relation to Bank of Ireland. The assessments showed that each of the three Irish banks should take extra provisions in relation to problem loans but that none of them needed additional capital. The exercise was based on balance sheet values at the end of June 2013.
CITYJET SALE TO BE INKED 'IN WEEKS' - The acquisition of Dublin-based airline Cityjet by Germany's Intro Aviation is likely to be completed within a couple of weeks, Intro's managing director has told the Irish Independent. Peter Oncken has also confirmed that the airline, which is headed by chief executive Christine Ourmieres, will continue to be based in Ireland for the foreseeable future. Just before Christmas, Cityjet owner Air France-KLM confirmed it had received a firm offer from Intro for the airline. The deal was due to close this quarter. Releasing fourth-quarter results, Air France-KLM said Cityjet has been reclassified as a discontinued operation on its books and that the sale of the airline is "ongoing". Despite being in the red - Cityjet made a €209m loss in 2012 after shouldering €185m in exceptional costs and redundancy payments - the airline's takeoff and landing slots at London City Airport are likely to be highly prized.
VODAFONE'S IRISH PRE-TAX PROFITS DROP TO €117m - Pre-tax profits at the Irish arm of mobile phone giant Vodafone last year declined by 14% to €117.3m, new figures show. Accounts just filed with the Companies Office show that Vodafone Ireland Ltd recorded the €19.5m drop after revenues marginally slipped by 1.3% from €1.031 billion to €1.018 billion in the 12 months to the end of March 31 last. The firm, now led by Cork native Anne O’Leary, paid a dividend of €150m to its parent last year following a payout of €60m in fiscal 2012, says the Irish Examiner. The firm is the market leader in Ireland in relation to mobile phone customers with 2.2 million at the end of March last and last year recorded a 29%, or 227,000 increase in the number of smart-phone users, with 1 million customers now using a smart-phone. Overall, the firm has a total customer base of 2.4 millio that includes 248,700 fixed-line customers - a 3.8% year-on-year increase in that sector.
BUFFETT'S BUSINESS WIRE ENDS FEED TO HIGH-SPEED TRADERS - Business Wire, which has published corporate news releases in the US for the last half century, will stop selling direct feeds to high-speed traders, amid concerns that the practice gives the firms an unfair advantage over other investors. Warren Buffett, whose conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway owns Business Wire, stepped in personally to examine the direct sales, fearing that recent publicity around the practice could hurt the company’s reputation, writes the Financial Times. Business Wire had also been in talks with Eric Schneiderman, New York attorney-general, whose office is investigating the distribution of financial data to see if high-frequency trading (HFT) firms are finding ways to jump ahead of other investors. In an era of computer-driven trading and superfast communications, a split-second advantage in receiving data can open an opportunity to profit from the market moves that may happen when other players receive the information. In the case of corporate earnings statements scheduled for release after the end of the trading day, a direct line from Business Wire meant some firms were able to trade ahead of the market’s official close, according to the research firm Nanex.