McDONALDS TO GET 47% REDUCTION IN GRAFTON STREET RENT - McDonald's fast food chain is to have its rent reduced by 47% on Dublin's Grafton Street less than two weeks before the Supreme Court is due to review a separate High Court ruling that the rent on another Grafton Street café, Bewley's, must be allowed to fall in line with the depressed open market rate. The background to the two rental arrangements are entirely different, writes the Irish Times. McDonald's has negotiated a lower rent under a new lease agreement while the Bewley's lease is still subject to five yearly upwards-only reviews. McDonald's had been paying an overall rent of €1.15 million under a 35-year lease which ran out at the end of 2011. That figure has now dropped to €600,000 and with upwards-only clauses no longer allowed, five yearly reviews are now based primarily on open market rental values. The landlords in this case - Royal London Mutual Life and Pension Fund - had indicated in advance of the review that it would also be looking for a premium of at least 30% on the rent to take account of the scarcity value of having a round-the-clock food business on the city's premier high street and also because of the sheer size of the building - it extends to 1,858sq m (20,000sq ft). Natalie Brennan of CBRE said the issue of the premium "was factored into the discussions and was taken on board". Grafton Street earned a reputation during the property boom for being one of the most expensive high streets in the world.
BANK OF IRELAND TO SCRAP 'DELEVERAGING' ROLE FOLLOWING DONOVAN'S RETIREMENT - Bank of Ireland will not appoint a new head of its "non-core division" following the retirement of previous head Denis Donovan, the Irish Independent has learned. As well as heading up the unit, Mr Donovan sat on the group executive committee, the team under chief executive Richie Boucher that oversees the day-to-day running of the bank. Following his retirement the role of head of group non-core division is "no longer required", according to an internal memo sent to staff and seen by the newspaper. The group non-core division was responsible for meeting a "deleveraging" target set for the bank, which included selling off €10 billion of international loan assets, as well as being charged with the bank's management of NAMA loans. Its understood the decision not to appoint a senior manager to replace Mr Donovan reflects the fact that much of the unit's work has already been completed. Instead, the bank has appointed two senior managers as new members of the group executive committee, according to the memo.
'NO FIRMS HIT BY TAX CLAMPDOWN' - Not a single company has contacted the tax authorities to say they have been affected by changes announced in the budget as part of Finance Minister Michael Noonan's clampdown on international tax avoidance, reports the Irish Examiner. In October's budget, Mr Noonan included a measure that required any company incorporated in Ireland to be tax resident either in this country or another jurisdiction. Multinationals had been exploiting a loophole in the Irish tax system that enabled them to incorporate companies here that were not tax resident in any other state. In response to a parliamentary question from Michael McGrath, Fianna Fáil's finance spokesman, Mr Noonan said no companies had been affected by this change. "I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that they have not, to date, been advised by any company that is or will be affected by the change in residence rules as to where it is actually resident following the announcement of the change in the budget," he said. Mr McGrath said he was "amazed" that not a single company had been hit by the rule change.
OSBORNE LOSES POUND AND FINDS THREEPENCE - George Osborne is to scrap the current £1 coin and replace it with a 12-sided version reminiscent of the old threepenny bit, in a Budget move that may appeal to the patriotism and nostalgia of a key section of the electorate. The chancellor took a personal interest in the design of the new coin, whose retro-look will incorporate anti-forgery features which Mr Osborne claims will make it the most secure coin in circulation in the world, says the Financial Times. In a Budget with little money for populist “giveaways”, Mr Osborne’s back-to-the-future coin may turn out to be one of the biggest talking points of his statement. Mr Osborne says the current £1 coin, which has been in circulation for over 30 years, is increasingly vulnerable to counterfeiters so that about 3% of all the coins in circulation are fakes. In his role as Master of the Mint, Mr Osborne will announce plans for a replacement coin to be introduced in 2017, of bimetallic construction and of two colours, but crucially with 12 sides. Treasury officials admit the coin’s resemblance to the old threepenny bit has little to do with security and everything to do with nostalgia; the new design is a reincarnation of a coin that was in circulation from 1937 until decimalisation 1971.