RYANAIR 'UPS STAKE IN AER LINGUS' - The Irish Times says Ryanair is believed to have spent €37.6m yesterday increasing its stake in Aer Lingus to 28%. It is understood that the budget airline bought 16 million shares at €2.35 each from an unnamed seller.

This makes Ryanair the biggest shareholder in Aer Lingus, ahead of the Government, which has a 25% stake and the employee share ownership trust (Esot), which owns 12.6%.

The paper says Ryanair is expected to notify the stock market today that it has increased its shareholding in Aer Lingus, from its previous level of 25.2%.

Its €1.48 billion bid for Aer Lingus was blocked earlier this summer by the European Commission, but Brussels stopped short of forcing Ryanair to offload its shareholding.

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MARKETS TROUBLE TO MEAN RATES RELIEF? - The Irish Independent says the troubles in the stock market may mean no further rises in interest rates, or even cuts in rates next year.

The paper says financial markets are now betting on a couple of cuts in US rates by the end of this year, and a reversal of any euro rise, to bring rates back to their present 4% by early 2008.

But the Indo warns that such bets imply that the financial crunch will hit the real economy and cut global growth.

Yesterday, the price of industrial metals such as copper and lead also plunged, in a sign that investors are worried about the demand for such materials in the world economy next year.

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€70m PLAN FOR FORMER IRISH TIMES SITE - The Irish Examiner reports that the Cavan-based construction group P Elliott has applied for planning permission for the redevelopment of the former headquarters of the Irish Times in Dublin, involving an investment of €70m. This site fronts onto D'Olier Street and Fleet Street. The buildings cover about 6,000 square metres or 0.44 acres.

The paper says P Elliott has just submitted a planning application to Dublin City Council for the site, which it bought for €29m.

It quotes a spokesman as saying that the D'Olier Street end of the development has a preservation order on it and the frontage would stay much as it is. The redeveloped site will provide a range of retail, professional, medical and other services when it is up and running.

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UK PRIVATE EQUITY BOSSES FACE TOUGHER TAX RULES - The Financial Times says the British Chancellor Alistair Darling is considering toughening capital gains tax rules to clamp down on wealthy private equity executives who pay little or no tax on much of their earnings.

The FT says Mr Darling is considering an increase from 10% to 20% in the base rate of capital gains tax for investments classed as business assets, such as holdings in unlisted companies or shares owned by employees.

This could come with an extension from two to five years in the 'taper relief' period - the time these investments must be held to reach the lower rate.

The paper says the chancellor is also examining a distinction between large buy-outs by 'mega funds', and smaller venture capital deals or entrepreneurs selling their companies.