Today in the press

Tuesday 22 April 2014 08.41
A look at some of today's business stories in the newspapers
A look at some of today's business stories in the newspapers

€29.3m LOAN BROKE IRISH NATIONWIDE'S OWN RULES - Irish Nationwide gave a loan of €29.3 million to buy a site in Dublin, in 2007, without first getting board and credit committee approval, and without carrying out other necessary steps as set out in its commercial lending policy, reports the Irish Times. The loan is expected to form part of a civil case being taken by Irish Nationwide’s liquidator against its ex-managing director Michael Fingleton. This case is seeking damages from Mr Fingleton in relation to his stewardship of the building society, whose collapse cost the taxpayer €5.4 billion. The loan being examined as part of this action was given to Devondale, a company controlled by builder Anthony Durkan, on March 20th, 2007, to allow his company buy a site in Clonskeagh, Co Dublin. There is no suggestion of any wrongdoing by Devondale or its directors. The loan is of interest to KPMG, the liquidator of the society, because of the way it was granted relative to the society’s own rules and policies. Irish Nationwide’s lending policies state that all significant loans must first be approved by its board and credit committee. This did not happen in this instance because the loan was already paid out before it was retrospectively approved by Irish Nationwide’s board and credit committee, about seven days later. The loan also failed to meet the criteria of a new commercial lending policy the society’s board had approved the previous month, at its meeting on February 28th, 2007.

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BILLIONAIRE CHINESE PROPERTY DEVELOPER XU WEIPING LOOKS TO IRELAND FOR NEW INVESTMENTS - One of China's leading property developers is eyeing Ireland for investment as he seeks opportunities across Europe. Xu Weiping plans to construct a new neighbourhood in London's docklands aimed at attracting Asian companies looking to do business in Europe. The billionaire, however, is also understood to be assessing a number of other sites beyond the 'Asian Business Port', as the London development is known. Speaking to the Irish Independent, Mr Xu praised Ireland as a destination for enterprise and admitted that the lower cost of doing business in this country made it attractive to companies coming from the Far East. "Value for money is a very important element for any market," he said. "London is a huge market but its costs are very high - far higher than Ireland - so from this perspective Ireland has many advantages. "Its labour and manufacturing costs are much lower than other centres and, importantly, it is also an English-speaking country. That makes it far easier for Far Eastern companies to integrate into the local society and do business there - and combined with the country's position between the US and Europe - it is an excellent location for Asian business," he added.

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SPENCER DOCK RECEIVERSHIP FEES TOTAL €1.59m - Professional and receivers’ fees from the receivership of Treasury Holdings’ main Spencer Dock company total €1.59m to date, new figures have revealed. David Hughes and Luke Charleton of EY were appointed as receivers to various retail units, undeveloped sites and partially developed sites owned by Spencer Dock Development Co Ltd on January 25, 2012, by Nama. Now, the Irish Examiner says that documents filed with the Companies Office show that the receivers have received €277,857 to date in fees. Finance Minister Michael Noonan recently revealed that Nama has paid fees totalling €59.6m to receivers concerning 258 separate receiver appointments since the agency was established. In relation to the Spencer Dock receivership, the documentation shows that a total of €1.314m has been paid out in ‘professional fees’ over the two years from January 2012 to January of this year, though no detail is provided on what the professional fees were spent on. The extract relating to the six-month period from July 25 last to January 24 of this year confirms that professional fees of €317,486 and receivers’ fees of €277,857 were paid out during the period. The Revenue Commissioners was also paid €337,166 during the most recent six month period covered. 

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GERMAY ATTACKED OVER PLAN TO CUT RETIREMENT AGE - The German government’s plan to lower the retirement age has come under fire for the message it sends to cash-strapped peripheral eurozone states, reports the Financial Times. Speaking to national paper Die Welt, Günther Oettinger, German EU commissioner, said that Germany’s plans to allow longer-serving employees to retire at the age of 63 sent the “wrong signal” at a time when countries like Greece, Spain and Portugal are struggling to introduce tough labour market reforms. “We expect Greeks to work longer for less pay,” said Mr Oettinger. “They are now wondering that Germany is going in the other direction.” Warning that the eurozone’s largest economy faces a skills shortage, the EU energy commissioner said that politicians should start to talk instead about a retirement age of 70 and help equip people with professional training for a longer working life. Angela Merkel’s coalition government has already been criticised by business groups and economists who have argued that the proposed pension reforms will put financial strain on an economy that is struggling with a rapidly ageing population. The eurozone debt crisis and an ageing workforce has seen some of the harder hit nations forced to take tough action. Greece and Spain have agreed to raise their retirement age from 65 to 67, while Portugal recently pushed its retirement age up to 66.

Keywords: presswatch