BIGGEST MONEYLENDER HAS 100,000 CUSTOMERS - The Irish Examiner says the number of families turning to moneylenders for instant cash loans is soaring, with the biggest firm Provident now lending to 100,000 customers.

With more than 40 licensed moneylenders operating across the country, and countless illegal agents, the Examiner says the numbers forced to borrow at exorbitant rates could be closer to 200,000.

Provident Personal Credit, which makes unsecured loans of up to €500, is the largest moneylender in Ireland and Britain. An Irish Examiner investigation in 2009 revealed that Provident had 75,000 customers here. This rose to 88,000 in 2010 and the firm now lends to 100,000 people.

The paper says that for every €100 borrowed for one year, Provident charges €56. For six-month loans, the APR rises to 187.2%, where the cost is €30 per €100 borrowed.


IBF LOBBIED DEPARTMENT ON INSOLVENCY PLANS - The Irish Times says the Irish Banking Federation made nine representations to the Department of Finance ahead of the publication of proposed legislation changing the personal insolvency regime.

The paper says records released under the Freedom of Information Act show that the federation held two meetings and made seven submissions to the department between August 2011 and January 2012.

The department declined to release the records, saying that material contained "sensitive information" and was subject to "deliberative process" as the draft proposals were still being examined.

A schedule of records relating to representations made reveals the contacts with the department. Minister for Finance Michael Noonan and Minister for Justice Alan Shatter published the proposed personal insolvency changes in January.


EU TO STAND FIRM ON AIR CARBON EMISSIONS - The Financial Times quotes the EU's climate change chief as saying that the threat of a trade war will not make the union back down on climate legislation.

The FT says Connie Hedegaard's comments follow pressure from foreign governments who want the EU to drop plans to charge airlines for carbon emissions.

In an interview with the paper, Ms Hedegaard, the commissioner for climate action, said the EU was determined to work with the US, China and other nations to reach an international agreement to curb airlines' emissions.

But she also sought to make clear that commercial threats would not sway Brussels, saying: "You can't threaten a trade war just because you don't like European legislation."


RECEIVER FOR BUILDING FIRM BARRACK - The Irish Independent reports that NAMA has sent in a receiver to Barrack Construction, a house builder controlled by developer Paddy Byrne. The business has debts of €25m, the paper says.

The National Asset Management Agency appointed Michael McAteer and Gearoid Costelloe of Grant Thornton as statutory receivers and managers earlier this month.

The Indo says Mr Byrne is low-profile but hit the headlines back in 2008 when his helicopter crashed at the Neptune Beach Hotel in Co Meath. It says Bank of Scotland appointed its own receiver to the same company last year. Both Bank of Scotland and NAMA have charges over assets controlled by the building firm.