LENIHAN WILL DECIDE ON ANY ACTION OVER FORMER ANGLO CHIEF - Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan has reserved ultimate control over dealings between the nationalised Anglo Irish Bank and its former chairman Sean Fitzpatrick, and reserved control over its engagement with the legal inquiries into its affairs, writes the Irish Times. As Garda and regulatory investigations into the scandals that beset Anglo continue, a confidential agreement governing its relationship with the state essentially means that the bank's board must defer to the Minster when dealing with the fallout from the controversies and when recruiting or removing any senior staff. Sweeping its in scope, the agreement also reserves Mr Lenihan's implicit power over Anglo's dealings with the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA). With €28 billion in property-related loans moving into the 'bad bank', Anglo will be biggest participant in the NAMA project. The framework agreement between the Minister and Anglo, agreed in July, was released to the Irish Times under the Freedom of Information Act.
ALMOST HALF OF O'BRIEN'S OUTLETS OPPOSE TAKEOVER - Many licensed outlets of the troubled O'Briens Sandwich Bars chain do not back Abrakebabra Investments' proposed takeover of the company's business in the Republic, the High Court heard yesterday. Wexford franchisee Michael Hayes, in sworn evidence on behalf of 29 franchisees, told Mr Justice Sean Ryan that suggestions to the contrary in the media and in the report of the examiner to O'Briens, were incorrect says the Irish Independent. He said the franchisees believed the prospects for their business and their 457 employees would be better if the company went into liquidation. Mr Hayes, of Pineridge, Summerhill, Wexford, said the proposed investor, the Graeme Beere and Denis Desmond-backed AIL, had refused to meet the franchisees as a group and did not have the support of all of them. The legal team representing 53 of the 61 O'Briens outlets, will today argue the legal issues against the company being allowed to revoke its lease agreements with landlords and franchisees. The company wants the High Court to give it an escape route from being sandwiched as the middleman by allowing it to repudiate its leasing agreements.
MERKEL PROMISES SWIFT TAX CUTS - Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, promised swift income tax cuts and a reform of corporate and inheritance tax on Monday, the Financial Times says. But she also warned her Free Democratic partners in Germany's next government not to expect a more radical shift towards free-market economic policies. Speaking a day after voters gave her Christian Democratic Union and the smaller FDP a surprisingly comfortable majority in parliament, Ms Merkel said she would now push forward with the business-friendly tax policies she had not managed to implement as head of a grand coalition with her rival Social Democrats. The move drew cheers from business, which has complained about recent reforms that forced companies to pay tax on part of their interest payments, and about the hefty tax bills that heirs to owner-managers faced when inheriting small businesses.
ITV INVESTORS FURIOUS OVER 'SHAMBOLIC' HUNT FOR CEO - ITV shareholders have reacted in anger to the collapse of its search for a new chief executive, called the situation a "total shambles", says the London Independent. One of ITV's largest shareholders was furious after the company terminated talks with the preferred candidate Tony Ball on Friday. The fund manager said: "It is an extraordinary display of incompetence by a fully listed company in the modern era; especially one that has not been noted for the success of its recent commercial judgement." He added: "The situation is a total shambles, the process has not been handled at all well." The shares have fallen almost two-thirds since May 2007, and the manager said: "Investors should be allowed to be put out of their misery by BSkyB or some other suitable entity." BSkyB, which holds almost 18% of ITV, would not comment on the situation. Insiders at ITV hit back, saying the issues arose from Mr Ball's side. "The company found it very difficult to run the process, when every step of the way was played out in the media by one of the candidates. ITV did everything to keep the process quiet," one said.