REGULATOR ASKS FIRMS FOR ANGLO TRANSACTION RECORDS - The Financial Regulator has asked each of the stockbroking companies in the Irish market to provide phone recordings and transaction records linked to all of their recent dealings in Anglo Irish Bank shares, writes the Irish Times. The regulator is understood to have requested such information in a series of personal contacts yesterday with the chief executives of most of the Irish stockbroking companies. While the deadline for the provision of such information is not known, it was speculated in some quarters that investigators might visit individual firms to examine data. Senior market sources said that certain brokers have already started the process of collating information for the inquiry. Stockbrokers routinely record the phone conversations of their dealers and analysts. The fact that such records will be examined indicates that brokers' dealings in the shares of Irish financials will be subjected to a high level of scrutiny in the investigation. Dealings in Anglo's stock are the primary focus at present, although a number of trades in shares of Irish Life & Permanent are also under examination. The Irish Stock Exchange is also understood to be involved in an inquiry, it is understood.

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NTR IN TALKS TO FORGE A SOLAR ALLIANCE IN THE US - Diversified Irish utility group NTR has entered preliminary discussions to forge a partnership with a US company that is planning to spend up to $2 billion to develop two major energy plants in California that could be among the world's largest solar arrays when completed in a few years. Should an agreement be inked, it will mark NTR's first foray into the solar energy sector. The Irish Independent understands that NTR is holding the talks with Arizona-headquartered Stirling Energy Systems, which has been working with a US government-sponsored research laboratory to refine the solar technology that it plans to deploy in the two massive energy plants that could power one million Californian homes. One plant is slated to be constructed north of Los Angeles, in the Mojave Desert, while the second is due to be installed at Imperial Valley, near San Diego.

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EX-ELAN'S BOSS'S $3.6m PAYOFF - The former president of research and development at drug company Elan has walked away with a $3.6 million (€2.3m) payoff, says the Irish Examiner. Dr Lars Ekman stepped down as executive vice-president of the company's global R&D operations in December after nearly seven years in the job. He remains a non-executive director of Elan and chairman of its science and technology committee. A new filing with the US Securities & Exchange Commission in the US, where Elan has its primary listing on the New York Stock Exchange, reveals that Dr Ekman was paid benefit-in-kind of $3.1m (€1.9m) in 2007 and of this $2.5m (€1.6m) was a lump sum severance, compensation for forfeiting share options and payments if the company achieves "certain milestones in respect of our Alzheimer's disease programme". The rest of the $3.6m (€2.3m) comprised his salary for the year and other undisclosed benefit-in-kind.

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JPMORGAN CHASE LURES BEAR BROKERS - JPMorgan Chase is offering Bear Stearns' best brokers annual bonuses of more than $500,000 in an effort to prevent an exodus of talent as a result of its planned takeover of the stricken investment bank, says the Financial Times. People close to the situation said JPMorgan, which raised its all-stock bid to buy Bear from $2 to $10 per share on Monday, told the firm's 400-plus private client brokers that those bringing in more than $500,000 in revenues would receive a bonus of up to 100 per cent of the total revenue they generated.