As a location for international banks Ireland's attractiveness has improved significantly over the past year, according to the Federation of International Banks in Ireland. The FIBI holds its annual conference in Dublin's Marker Hotel today. Ahead of that a survey it has conducted among international banks finds that 69% of them see Ireland as an attractive location compared to 55% in a similar survey last year.
Regulation and the move towards a single European regulator and a single set of rules in the EU is one of the big talking points at today's conference. Steven Maijoor is chairman of the European Securities and Markets Authority, one of the agencies tasked with safeguarding the stability of the financial system in Europe. Mr Maijoor says a lot of agreements have been made on the legislative phase, and the authorities are now moving towards implementation and supervision - he emphasises this is a key phase for banking regulatory reform.
He says the new legislation has made the sector more stable, adding that consumer protection is the group's main objective. One of the group's aims is to also make it easier to do business across Europe. Mr Maijoor says that one of the problems which contributed to the financial crisis was the fact that the the financial centres were not only competing with each other on quality and innovation, they were also competing on flexible interpretation of the laws and regulations. That resulted in a lowering of standards, and one of ESMA's tasks is to go against that downward spiral and they have the ability to intervene if different standards occur. But he cautions that it is not easy to get 28 national regulators on the same page at the same time and standards and regulations will need some time to be worked out.
MORNING BRIEFS - Fyffes sold more bananas over the first quarter of the year than in the same three month period of last year but at a lower average price. Fluctuating currencies, weather and transport costs mean volatility is a fact of life in the fruit business but Fyffes said its overall revenues up almost 3.5% to €306.5m. Adjusted profit for the period, excluding €6m worth of costs related to Fyffes proposed merger with Chiquita, was up 18% to €15.8m.
*** French bank BNP Paribas has been doing some illegal international banking according to US authorities. BNP stands accused of violating sanctions on processing transactions linked to Iran. According to the Financial Times, the bank is facing a fine of up to $3.5 billion. That is equivalent to half its net profit for 2013 and it is three times higher than the $1.2 billion settlement paid by HSBC in 2012 to bring to a close an investigation by the US justice department over similar violations. The size of the proposed fine is believed to reflect the US Justice Department's annoyance at a perceived lack of co-operation by the bank with the probe.
*** A referendum will take place in Switzerland on Sunday in which voters will be asked whether they approve of the country instituting what would be the highest minimum hourly wage in the world. Opinion polls suggest almost two thirds of Swiss citizens are against the proposal for a minimum wage of 22 Swiss Francs - €18 - an hour.