ARNOTTS BUYS DEBENHAMS JERVIS LEASE - The Irish Times reports that department store Arnotts is to take over rival Debenhams' lease on one of the biggest outlets in Dublin's Jervis Street shopping centre. Arnotts said yesterday it was acquiring the lease on the 7,400 square metre store from early next year.

The paper says London-listed Debenhams bought Irish chain Roches Stores last year for an initial €15m payment and an earn-out deal worth up to a further €14m.

The sale meant Debenhams got a bigger premises close to the Jervis Street shop in what was Roches Stores' Henry Street branch.

The Irish Times says the deal with Debenhams opens the possibility that Arnotts will use the Jervis Street outlet when it goes ahead with the planned redevelopment of its existing store on Henry Street, part of the same key shopping area in Dublin's city centre.


BORD NA MÓNA WORKERS VOTE ON ESOP - The Irish Independent reports that 1,700 staff at Bord na Móna could be in for an average share windfall worth over €6,500 if they vote for an employee share option scheme which will see workers receive 5% of the company.

The paper quotes sources close to the company as confirming that union members at Bord na Móna will vote over the next couple of weeks on whether to accept an employee share ownership plan (ESOP) worth a total of over €11m.

For the sake of the plan, Bord na Móna has been valued at about €225m. But the Indo quotes property sources as saying that when land banks and subsidiaries are included, the company is more likely to be worth over €500m.


NEW MARKETS TO LIGHT UP DIAMONDS - The Financial Times says Investors who fear that high diamond prices may not be forever will soon have help at hand.

The FT says bankers and diamond experts are to launch two initiatives in the coming days to create the world's first derivatives contracts linked to diamond prices.

The paper says the move could inject new price clarity into the diamond market, which has been one of the most secretive and opaque corners of the global commodities sector. It could also give consumers more bargaining power when buying diamonds.

The FT says the move is striking, because the diamond industry - unlike sectors such as gold - has hitherto fiercely resisted efforts to introduce transparent pricing or complex financial products.


HEDGE COLLAPSE MAY HIT BARCLAYS - The Daily Telegraph says Barclays Capital is at the centre of concerns over its exposure to two Bear Stearns hedge funds facing collapse.

The paper quotes sources as saying that the bank may have lent far more money to the high-risk funds than originally thought, much of it linked to the lower tier 'sludge' category of sub-prime mortgages most vulnerable to rising US default rates.

'This could hit Europe harder that people realise,' one banking specialist is quoted as saying. 'We understand that Barclays Capital has lent $1.2 billion to these funds.'