INTERNET PORN PRODUCER USES DUBLIN AS BASE - One of Europe’s biggest internet porn producers moved key parts of its business to the Republic last year. The Irish Times reports that Luxembourg-based Manwin, which operates some of the world’s most heavily viewed porn sites, set up a number of subsidiaries in Dublin in 2012. The move came before it bought part of the business of a rival, US-based RK Netmedia, a deal that had to get the Irish Competition Authority’s approval before it went through in the autumn. Manwin’s purchase of RK’s assets resulted in a number of transactions involving two of the Republic’s best-known commercial law firms, Arthur Cox and AL Goodbody. Company documents show that following the deal in the autumn, Miami Beach- based RK Holdings gave a Dublin company, Manwin Content RK, the right to use thousands of its porn movies. Arthur Cox advised RK Holdings while AL Goodbody acted for Manwin Content RK. The Dublin company had to give security over some of its assets in return for using the US producer’s copyright. Neither firm would comment, but it is understood that they were asked by overseas lawyers to act on the Irish elements of the deal.
NOONAN DETAILS NTMA BONUSES - The National Treasury Management Agency has slashed bonuses for staff and also paid less overtime, according to new figures. Finance Minister Michael Noonan said six staff at the agency shared bonus payments of €43,000 last year. That compares to €62,610 paid out in bonuses to five staff at the NTMA in 2011, and €1.9m shared by 258 NTMA staff in 2010, writes the Irish Independent. None of the six staff who received bonuses last year work at the National Asset Management Agency, which operates under the NTMA umbrella. Mr Noonan added that 1,088 individual employees and four groups of staff at the Revenue Commissioners shared €165,077 in "exceptional performance awards" last year, while a further group of around 1,000 people received an average of around €4,000 each for overtime and the like. In a written Dail response to Independent TD Thomas Pringle, Mr Noonan said 59 staff at the NTMA received additional payments of €140,500. The agency paid €170,364 to 74 employees in 2011. "These payments were to employees on lower salaries who contributed significant additional work hours," said Mr Noonan. "The NTMA does not have formal overtime payment arrangements in place for staff."
INVESTORS LINE UP FOR BUFFETT CLUES - There is a cottage industry dedicated to answering the question: “what would Warren do?” Warren Buffett’s investment principles, laid out in his annual letter to shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway, have inspired guides, imitators and even children’s books. Thousands travel to Omaha, Nebraska each year to hear him elaborate at the conglomerate’s annual meeting, says the Financial Times. When the next dispatch arrives late on Friday, readers will hope to find an explanation of the thinking behind his latest $12-$13 billion investment, the purchase of ketchup maker Heinz with Brazilian buyout group 3G Capital. Yet the letter is likely to answer in only the most general terms the query: “what will Warren do next?” What is clear is that he will make more big investments. Berkshire’s contribution to the bid, which values Heinz at $28 billion, will still leave the collection of more than 70 different businesses Mr Buffett has amassed over four decades awash in cash. At last count, the company had a $48 billion cash pile and, as Mr Buffett discussed the Heinz deal, he said he was he was “ready for another elephant, so if you see one walking by just tell me”. Last year he said that he had turned down two $20 billion deals, while a disclosure by the NYSE Euronext indicates that Berkshire at least considered making a bid for the exchange. Yet part of the challenge of trying to predict Mr Buffett’s next move is that the way he invests has changed dramatically over time.
UK TO FIGHT EU PLAN TO CAP BANKERS' BONUSES - Britain is to challenge an EU agreement to slash bankers' bonuses at a meeting of European finance ministers next week after Boris Johnson condemned the proposal as a "deluded measure", writes today's Guardian. Amid fears that the EU agreement could deal a hammer blow to the City of London, David Cameron said EU regulations needed to be flexible enough to allow international banks to operate in Britain and the rest of the European Union. George Osborne or the Treasury minister Greg Clark will represent Britain at the meeting next week to relay what No 10 described as real concerns about the proposal. The agreement in Brussels came as the Royal Bank of Scotland posted losses of more than £5 billion after paying out more than £600m in bonuses. No 10 said it had imposed cash limits of £2,000 on bonuses at RBS and Lloyds and was giving a greater say to shareholders in all banks. The prime minister's spokesman said: "Bonuses are very significantly down on where they were in 2010. So you are seeing real responsibility and restraint." Johnson highlighted deep British unease about the bonus agreement hammered out in Brussels on Wednesday night between officials from the EU's 27 member states, MEPs and the European commission by dismissing it as the most preposterous idea in Europe in two millennia. Under the agreement, bankers' bonuses would be capped broadly at a year's salary, although they could be doubled if a majority of shareholders agreed.