MULLINS EYES UP TO €150 MILLION OF SOLAR PROJECTS FOR AMARENCO - Amarenco, the renewables company set up by former Bord Gáis chief executive John Mullins, says it is in "advanced discussions" with US and German investors over a proposal to raise more than €150 million to invest in solar energy projects in Britain and France. Mr Mullins said the money would not be raised directly by Amarenco, but rather the company would be the asset manager for two separate funds set up to funnel investors' cash into solar projects in the two countries. Amarenco, which was set up by Mr Mullins last year following his exit from Bord Gáis, is involved in the setting up of a £100 million (€120 million) fund to invest in solar projects in southwest England, writes the Irish Times. Mr Mullins said it already has a pipeline of projects that are ready for investment, with the aim of acquiring 100MW of solar farms. The British fund will not leverage its capital to invest on a larger scale. Mr Mullins, who had originally planned to raise money for investment in Britain last year, said the market there is only opening up and banks are still reluctant to lend for large solar projects.
CREDIT UNIONS BID TO BLOCK CENTRAL BANK'S DEBT PLAN - Credit unions are frustrating an attempt by the Central Bank to launch a new initiative to get banks and other lenders to deal with all the debts of a household, and not just mortgage borrowings. %he scheme could see heavily indebted households getting a write-down of some of their debts. Credit unions and other lenders of so-called unsecured debts would be big losers, as the scheme would prioritise the paying of the mortgage. All the main banks have signed up for the new plan, to be called a multi-debt restructuring scheme. But opposition among credit unions is so strong that the Irish League of Credit Unions, a representative body for the majority of the local lenders, refused to turn up to a meeting in the Central Bank last Thursday attended by the chief executives of the main banks, the Irish Independent has learned. The Central Bank has been trying to get agreement on the new scheme since it completed a pilot project involving 750 over-stretched borrowers who have multiple debts. The pilot project was launched last May.
THINK TANK: EU ECONOMIC CRISIS PUT 6 MILLION OUT OF WORK - The economic crisis in Europe has put 6 million people out of work and driven others into poverty. This is according to a think tank study looking into the social impact of the slump that was examined by EU finance ministers for the first time yesterday, says the Irish Examiner. As host, Greece, the first eurozone country to be bailed out during the crisis, put it on the agenda of the regular meeting of EU finance ministers that has more usually focused on appeasing financial markets with tough spending reforms. After six years of recession that many blame on international lenders for exacerbating tax hikes and spending cuts, about a quarter of Greeks are jobless, including over half of those aged under 25. The study, presented by economic think tank Bruegel, outlined how unemployment had risen to 11% of the EU workforce last year, as governments slashed spending. The axe fell hardest on the young, the study found. “The European Union faces major social problems,” the study’s authors said in the presentation. “More than 6 million jobs were lost from 2008 to 2013 and poverty has increased.”
END OF GOLDMAN ERA ON THE NYSE FLOOR - Goldman Sachs is leaving the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. The Financial Time says that the investment bank, whose history has been intertwined with that of the downtown Manhattan exchange since 1896, is in the process of selling its “designated market-maker” unit, according to people familiar with the matter. The noisy trading floors of the open outcry era fell quiet years ago, apart from small telegenic huddles of activity at the start and finish of each day, and the planned exit highlights just how much the business of stock trading has changed. Goldman paid $6.5 billion in 2000 to acquire Spear, Leeds & Kellogg, which was at the time one of the most powerful trading companies on the NYSE floor. The bank is understood to have lined up IMC Financial Markets, a Dutch trading company, as a buyer for the unit, which analysts now value at about $30m or less. Designated market-makers, once known as specialists, manage the opening and closing auctions for thousands of NYSE-listed stocks and are responsible for providing liquidity in individual stocks.