HOTEL IS ONE OF SECURITIES HELD BY IRISH NATIONWIDE - REPORT - Irish Nationwide Building Society holds a legal charge over Hugh O'Regan's interest in the freehold of the 138-bed, four-star Morrison Hotel in Dublin, according to an independent accountant's report compiled last month for three companies that are being wound up. The Irish Times says that this is just one of a number of securities held by Irish Nationwide in relation to Dashaven Ltd, one of three companies Mr O'Regan is seeking to wind up. The others are Clubko Ltd and Thomas Read Holdings Ltd, which wholly owns the Morrison Hotel Ltd. The Morrison overlooks the river Liffey from Merchant's Quay and was designed by John Rocca. It employs about 120 staff. The High Court last week appointed Kieran Wallace of KPMG as liquidator to the three companies controlled by Mr O'Regan. This followed an application from the directors of the companies to have them wound up. The court heard that the three companies owe Irish Nationwide Building Society and Anglo Irish Bank more than €190 million between them. The firms' total liabilities over assets are estimated at €122 million.

***
US MULTINATIONAL IT FIRM TO SET UP NEW BASE HERE - A major US technology company is to set up in Galway as part of the government's drive to create a 'smart economy', writes the Irish Independent. Details of the company and the number of jobs it will create have been kept a closely guarded secret by the IDA and Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, but Tanaiste Mary Coughlan is expected to travel to Galway on Wednesday to make a formal announcement. It is believed that about 35 new jobs will be created initially, with a view to significantly increasing this number once the project is up and running. Sources indicated that the company - which does not already have a presence in Ireland - is an international corporation specialising in developmental information technology. The jobs to be created are expected to be in research and development. The new facility will be based at the IDA Business Park in Mervue and the decision to locate in the West of Ireland is regarded as a major achievement for the IDA and for Galway.

***
BOOKMAKER CONSIDERS IRISH RETAIL MOVE - Gibraltar-registered bookmaker Stan James is believed to be interested in opening a number of high street retail betting shops in Ireland, says the Irish Examiner. The move is likely to be on a small and focused scale and would be another bid by the company to boost its profile to Irish punters. The ultimate aim of the company is to increase the popularity of its online presence to betting enthusiasts here. While the company could not be directly contacted on the matter, one well-placed industry source said there was talk of Stan James entering the retail market here. Stan James makes most of its revenue from its online betting avenue - on which it is protected from paying tax to the British government on account of its offshore location. The company's interest in Ireland has already been seen; it spent about €500,000 in attempting to up its profile amongst Irish punters by heavily sponsoring Setanta Ireland's live Premiership football coverage last season. However, any move to go into retail here seems odd and costly as many operators are finding a greater share of profits coming from their online divisions rather than their shops. Interestingly, two other British bookmakers with a significant Irish presence - William Hill and Ladbrokes - have both been looking at decreasing their shop numbers here.

***
CHINA SAYS RIO SPYING HAS COST IT $100 BILLION - China has accused Rio Tinto of spying on its steel industry for six years, says the Financial Times. It has costed the country $102 billion in excessive charges for iron ore and highlighting the need for Beijing to overhaul the way it deals with state secrets so that it can better fend off any systemic threat to its economic security. The remarks, contained in an editorial in the magazine of the National Administration for the Protection of State Secrets, indicate that Beijing's detention of four Rio employees in China on accusations of stealing state secrets about iron ore price negotiations could be the start of a widening campaign rather than an isolated case. The report said the Rio case was only the tip of the iceberg and China should treat commercial espionage as seriously as a national security threat as does the west. "Our country has already entered a peak period of a commercial espionage war," it said.