Morning business news - March 24

Monday 24 March 2014 11.21
Morning business news - March 24
Morning business news - March 24

Three trends were identified by the credit reviewer John Trethowan in his 13th review of lending to small business.

John Trethowan says appeal requests for credit are now more about working capital increases and business investment – this, he says, reflects a recovering economy.

The Credit Review Office is also seeing demand for refinancing debts held by foreign banks which are exiting the Irish SME lending market.

And those banks leaving is making the rest of the market more concentrated which is leading to lower risk lending, which, it says, may not be meeting the needs of the real economy.

“It’s another symptom of the market,” Mr Trethowan said. “Because there are only three banks left they are becoming more concentrated... competition amongst a few isn’t healthy”.

Mr Trethowan said the shift is not as a result of any collusion amongst banks, but the reduction in competition means they can achieve their lending targets without having to take on much risk.

He said this has made it difficult for companies to get credit where they already have any financial challenge. This was a problem felt particularly amongst retailers as that sector of the economy continued to struggle.

“People were frightened to spend money, so I think that is the [sector[ that is probably getting it toughest,” Mr Trethowan said. “There are some good operators there and they’re doing well but it will take some time for them to recover from four to five years of subdued trading.”

***

Confidence among Irish investors in both the domestic and global economies has seen an increase over the last year, according to RaboDirect Investment Barometer.

Eight out of ten people surveyed had a positive outlook for the economy - up from about half a year ago.

The survey of almost 600 people with investment accounts with the Dutch bank also reported a surge in investor confidence concerning the property sector.

And Killian Nolan, RaboDirect investment manager, said a significant pick-up in investment activity has been recorded over the last year, aided by more positive news globally and buoyed by the exit from the troika bailout programme.

***

PWC says total money raised by Initial Public Offerings in Europe last year grew 135 per cent, with the bulk of activity taking place in the second half of the year.

More than 100 companies floated in Europe in the last three months of 2013 and the average European deal size more than doubled, according to an analysis by PwC.

London remained the dominant market in Europe by both the total number and total money raised. And the Irish Stock Exchange, which has seen a few companies delist, has seen several new IPOs - REITS Green and Hibernia, and more recently the Dalata Hotel Group.

***

Figures this morning show that China's manufacturing sector showed further contraction in March - this is according to a new report, the HSBC Purchasing Managers' Index, which mainly tracks activity in smaller factories.

Separate, official figures show an eight-month low, reinforcing signs of a modest slowdown in the world's second biggest economy.

China's exports also dropped 18% from a year earlier in February.