CALL FOR TAX BREAKS FOR DONATIONS - The Government is being urged to introduce new tax benefits for Irish charities in order to encourage an American-style 'culture of philanthropy' in the State, reports the Irish Times.

The paper quotes the Community Foundation for Ireland (CFI), a charitable trust which raises funds largely through high-wealth individuals, as saying philanthropy was 'still in its infancy' in Ireland compared to the US and UK, and this was partly due to a scarcity of tax incentives for donors.

Tina Roche, chief executive of the foundation, said the Government should follow the example of the US where philanthropists can get tax relief during their lifetime on money which they agree to bequeath to charities on their death.

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TWO-HORSE RACE FOR NAB BANKS? - The Irish Independent says it is looking likely that there will be only two suitors in the race for sister banks Northern and National Irish.

The paper says Halifax Bank of Scotland is likely to be the only 'in-market' bidder, adding that other banks already operating in the Irish market are either precluded from bidding on competition grounds or are interested in acquiring one or other of the banks owned by National Australia Bank.

The Australian vendor had made it clear that it will not entertain breaking up the banks - it wants a single sale. Indeed, it is understood that its adviser, London investment bankers Lazard, has refused to supply the information memorandum to prospective in-market suitors known to be interested in a partial purchase.

The paper quotes market sources as saying that Lloyds TSB is a contender among the banks which do not have an Irish market presence.

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SEC COULD OPEN UP CLOSED PERIODS - The Financial Times says the US Securities and Exchange Commission could scrap the so-called quiet period imposed on companies undertaking initial public offerings, under a proposal released on Tuesday.

The FT says the five SEC commissioners voted unanimously to put out the staff proposal, which would unwind 70-year-old securities rules aimed at preventing companies issuing stock from making available any information except that contained in a prospectus.

The plan would allow seasoned issuers - defined as those raising $700m or more, or those who have issued $1 billion or more in registered debt in the preceding three years - to freely engage in 'oral or written communications'. It would also liberalise rules for less seasoned issuers.

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'£500m DEBT WOULD FUND UNITED MOVE' - Malcolm Glazer, the US businessman stalking Manchester United, is planning to raise £500m of debt to finance a takeover that analysts say could risk the club going into bankruptcy, according to documents seen by the Daily Telegraph.

Talks between United and Glazer were terminated on Monday with the Premiership club saying it was uncomfortable that the American's plans involved loading up the debt-free club with significant borrowings.

The paper says the documents detail funding plans drawn up with the help of investment bankers at JP Morgan. They show that the plans involve a takeover of United at 310p a share, valuing the company at £815m. Advisory fees would bring Mr Glazer's total cost of the takeover to £850m.

But the Telegraph quotes a spokesman for Mr Glazer as saying: 'None of this is true. This has not come from anyone with any insight into the Glazer camp.'