EU TO SET OUT TERMS FOR DEBT REVIEW OF IRELAND - Ireland will face its first post-bailout review mission at the end of April, as the EU and IMF begin their formal post-programme monitoring of the economy. The European Commission is expected to outline its plans for Ireland’s post-programme surveillance today in Brussels when it unveils its annual “in-depth review” of EU countries with macroeconomic imbalances, says the Irish Times. The EU will confirm that, following the end of its EU-IMF bailout, Ireland is now subject to two review missions a year until 75% of the State’s bailout loans are paid back - a period that could last for decades. The last ESM loan is scheduled to be repaid in 2042. Despite earlier suggestions that the review could form part of the EU’s regular economic surveillance of member states’ economies, Ireland’s post-programme surveillance will be a separate procedure. A written report and analysis will be compiled after each review mission, which is then expected to be published and furnished to euro zone finance ministers.
ETIHAD HAS 'RECOUPED ITS INVESTMENT IN AER LINGUS' - Gulf carrier Etihad has already recouped its investment in Aer Lingus, according to the Abu Dhabi-based airline's chief financial officer James Rigney. Etihad acquired a near 3% stake in Aer Lingus in 2012 and has since developed a code share agreement with the Irish airline, and said that it would be interested in raising its stake in the carrier writes the Irish Independent. Asked about its investments in a number of airlines around the world as Etihad this week unveiled full-year results, Mr Rigney said the Gulf carrier has invested in seven airlines. It owns stakes in companies including Air Berlin, Air Seychelles, Virgin Australia and India's Jet Airways. "Air Berlin, Air Seychelles, Virgin Australia and Aer Lingus - our investment into each of those four airlines, we've already recouped that investment," said Mr Rigney. "We still obviously hold the shares in those companies, so everything we receive going forward is incremental to the business."
'FINANCIAL TOURISTS' CHECK IN AND OUT OF JAPAN STOCK MARKET - Last year in Japan was a record one for tourism. More than 10 million tourists came and went, many doing the rounds of the Zen gardens of Kyoto, the fish market at Tsukiji and the fleshpots of Roppongi. But the problem for Shinzo Abe, prime minister, is that the stock market is seeing traffic of a similar kind: big macro funds checking in and out, pushing up prices as they arrive and sending them down when they leave, reports the Financial Times. Foreign net purchases of stocks rose to a record $155 billion last year, lured mostly by the monetary fireworks at the Bank of Japan. But this year flows have swung into reverse, with a net $12 billion of sales. The Nikkei 225 stock average, which finished 2013 among the best performing benchmarks in local currencies, is now among the worst, down about 9% in 2014. Many analysts argue that nothing has changed in Japan to prompt the about-turn. There were more upgrades than downgrades to companies’ full-year profit forecasts last month. Stock prices are not particularly stretched, with the broad Topix index trading at a lower multiple of earnings than the US, the UK or the Euro Stoxx. And the BoJ remains committed to hitting its 2% inflation target in 2015, implying another shot of easing if momentum dips after a tax increase in April.
BARCLAYS CHIEF DEFENDS BONUS PAYOUT IN YEAR OF FALLING PROFITS - Antony Jenkins has sought to defend the bonus culture at Barclays as the bank prepares to hand him up to £1m in shares to sidestep the bonus cap. In the wake of the furore caused by the decision to increase bonuses by 10%, following a 32% fall in profits, the Barclays boss told the Daily Telegraph he was attempting to avoid a "death spiral" after an increase in the number of staff leaving. When the bank publishes its annual report - possibly as soon as Wednesday - it will also reveal that is has paid more than £1m to more staff in 2013 than the 428 who received at least that sum in 2012. As he criticised demands from regulators and the parliamentary commission on banking standards to defer bonuses for up to 10 years, Jenkins said the cutback in bonuses the previous year had left the bank in "a situation where the business begins to contract". "People are less attracted to come to you, both clients and employees," he said. "You get into something of a death spiral. Your brand deteriorates, and you can move very quickly from being a first tier player to one in the second or third tier if you don't protect the franchise." As many as 700 staff are believed to have walked out of the group's US investment bank, and the rate of resignations among senior directors doubled to nearly 10%.