PERMANENT TSB CHIEF SAYS BANK NOW HAS CAPABILITIES TO DEAL WITH MORTGAGE ARREARS - Ten days ago, the Central Bank's Fiona Muldoon, who is in charge of ensuring the soundness of Irish banks, accused the banks of paying lip service to the idea of dealing with mortgage arrears. "Too much activity and not enough outcome," she told the Irish Banking Federation's national conference. She went further saying there is no evidence of humility and that dealing with banks was like ''dealing with a teenager''.

The chief executive of Permanent TSB, Jeremy Masding, says it is Ms Muldoon's duty to keep the banks on their toes and he says his bank has invested in time, people and processes to start helping people who find themselves in arrears on their mortgages. Mr Masding said the bank was ''attacking'' the mortgage arrears problem in three stages. He says it is building up its capabilities to help people and admits that it did not have those capabilities in the past. The second plank of its efforts is to work with customers in ''early arrears'', which he says has resulted in progress. The third part of PTSB's efforts is to work with people in late stage arrears, or those on ''unsustainable mortgages''. ''As long as customers engage with us, we have the capability and processes to deal with the problems now,'' he states. Mr Masding says that late arrears must be dealt with on a case by case basis and he says he is confident that over time - and on a case by case basis - the bank can help people with late stage arrears.

Earlier this week, Finance Minister Michael Noonan said a way forward for Permanent TSB with the Troika had been agreed, which envisages the bank having an important place in retail banking. He said PTSB would bring competition to the marketplace which had contracted significantly since 2008. The bank's boss says the bank's decision to split into a ''good bank'' and an ''asset management unit'' is a function of the industry's desire to have a profitable and sustainable banking system. He says that 2012 was ''a year of fixing'' and Permanent TSB remained ''below the radar''. But by next year it will be back in the mortgage lending market again, he states.


MICROSOFT COMMITTED TO IRELAND AS WINDOWS 8 LAUNCHES - Microsoft launched its new Windows 8 operating system overnight as well as the company's Surface tablet. But Apple's boss Tim Cook has already had a go at the new Surface tablet. ''I haven't personally played with the Surface yet, but what we're reading about it, is that it's a fairly compromised, confusing product," he said. "I suppose you could design a car that flies and floats, but I don't think it would do all of those things very well."

Microsoft Ireland's managing director Paul Rellis has welcomed the launch of Windows 8, which he describes as the most fundamental resign of Windows since Windows 95. He says it is a ''fantastic'' piece of software for consumers. Microsoft employs 1,200 people in Ireland and its Irish workers have played a key role in the launch. Many employees in the Sandyford plant in Dublin were involved in the development and testing of the product. They also worked on the core development, localisation and testing work to ensure that the product was ready for launch in over 100 different languages, Mr Rellis said. He said that Microsoft has been 27 years in Ireland, has made huge investments in the country and is committed to Ireland.


MORNING BRIEFS - Apple published its fourth quarter sales last night - and they disappointed investors. Fourth quarter sales numbers of Apple's iPad came in at 14 million, below already weakened forecasts. There were two factors behind the numbers - a weak economic background, and Apple fans waiting for the newly released iPad mini. Apple shares fell 1.5% even though sales and profits were up on the previous year and in line with expectations. Apple said its profits for its financial year came in at $41.7 billion, up 45% on 2011. Revenues were up 61% at $156.5 billion. The pressure is on for the holiday season with Apple, Amazon, Google and Microsoft all competing for the gadget spend.