KBC RULES ITSELF OUT OF LINK-UP WITH ULSTER BANK - Belgian financial institution KBC appeared to rule itself out yesterday from any interest in a link-up with Ulster Bank in the Republic as part of the strategic review being carried out by that bank's parent company, Royal Bank of Scotland. In a presentation to investors, KBC made clear that it plans to plough an independent furrow in Ireland until it is back in profit here in 2016. "For Ireland, KBC's first priority is to become profitable from 2016 onwards. As of then, all available options will be considered - whether to organically grow a profitable bank, build a captive bank-insurance group, or sell a profitable bank," the Belgian group said in a statement yesterday. RBS hired Morgan Stanley earlier this year to look at potential strategic options for Ulster Bank in the Republic, which has been a huge drag on the UK group. These options are thought to include investment by a private group and/or a merger with another Irish bank. KBC Bank Ireland and the Permanent TSB are the only likely merger options. When asked by The Irish Times if KBC was indeed ruling itself out of any discussions with RBS about Ulster Bank, it would only say: "The future of KBC Bank in Ireland is to grow into a strong retail player offering compelling value to customers." However, sources indicated KBC intends to focus on turning around its own operation here over the next two years.
THOUSANDS MISS OUT ON LOST PENSIONS WORTH €500m - There has been a surge in people contacting the pensions ombudsman as up to €500m is sitting in "lost" accounts. Ombudsman Paul Kenny said thousands of people who moved jobs years ago are now finding it difficult to trace their retirement benefits, writes the Irish Independent. "I think there are probably thousands of people out there who have pensions that they cannot find," he said. Problems locating lost retirement funds can be due to companies going out of business, but failing to shut down the pension fund. Or perhaps the company that sponsored the pension has since been taken over, he said. People who have moved jobs a number of times and those who have worked abroad may have misplaced pensions. "We know that pension providers have numbers - possibly thousands - of orphan schemes on their books, that should have been wound up, but were not," he said. Mr Kenny was unable to say what the value of lost pensions was, but Jerry Moriarty of the Irish Association of Pension Funds estimated that up to €500m worth of pensions remain unclaimed. Both the pensions Ombudsman and Mr Moriarty called for the setting up of a national tracing service to reunite workers with their old pensions.
SELLING TERROR: HOW ISIS CHARTS ITS BRUTALITY IN ANNUAL REPORT - It is not a corporation and does not have shareholders, but the military success and brutality of the jihadi group surging through Iraq have been recorded with the level of precision often reserved for company accounts. Since 2012 the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, (known as Isis) has issued annual reports, outlining in numerical and geographical detail its operations, writes the Financial Times. This includes the number of bombings, assassinations, checkpoints, suicide missions, cities taken over and even "apostates" converted to the Isis cause. In 2013 alone, the group's report claimed nearly 10,000 operations in Iraq: 1,000 assassinations, 4,000 improvised explosive devices planted and hundreds of radical prisoners freed. In the same year it claimed hundreds of "apostates" had been turned. Called al-Naba - the News - the reports for 2012 and 2013 (a year in which 8,000 civilians died in Iraq) have been analysed by the US-based Institute for the Study of War, which corroborates much of the information they contain. Isis's aim appears to be to demonstrate its record to potential donors. The reports paint a picture of an organisation that analysts say is not so much the ragtag terrorist band depicted by Iraqi officials but more of an organised military structure with a clear political strategy to set up a Sunni sectarian state - and one with several of the hallmarks of a corporate entity.
GLENILEN TASTES SUCCESS AS PROFITS RISE BY €91,000 - The award-winning Cork-based Glenilen food business last year continued its rapid growth with its accumulated profits increasing by €91,277, reports the Irish Examiner. Driven by double digit growth in Ireland and the UK last year, 2013 accounts for Glenilen Farm Ltd show the business increased its accumulated profits going from €229,045 to €320,322 in the 12 months to February 28, 2013. This followed accumulated profits increasing from €157,746 to €229,045 in the 12 months to the end of February, 2012. The firm’s cash pile declined from €146,207 to €120,918 in 2013. The enterprise produces a range of mainly dairy-based products including the well-known Glenilen brand of yoghurts in a business that started off as a hobby in 1996 for the couple behind the business Alan and Valerie Kingston.