LIFESTYLE SPORTS THREATENS TO SHUT OUTLETS IN UPWARD-ONLY RENTS ROW - Lifestyle Sports has threatened to close up to 10 of its 67 retail outlets over a dispute with a group of landlords who will not give it a reduction on upward-only rents. The company is owned by the Stafford group, which also owns Campus Oil. It has called a creditors meeting to appoint a liquidator to Pombury, an insolvent subsidiary of the Stafford Group that owns the leases on the 10 Lifestyle stores where landlords are holding out on any rent reduction. Lifestyle has already negotiated rent reductions at 57 of its stores, and those leases have been transferred over to an entity called Lifestyle Sports (Ireland), writes the Irish Times. The move to wind up Pombury is being viewed as a tough negotiating tactic designed to bring its landlords to heel, or face receiving nothing in a liquidation. The company will now seek to enter negotiations with the landlords on the 10 properties, with a view to reaching agreement before the creditors meeting on February 19th. It is prepared to shut stores where agreement cannot be reached, however. The group last night declined to reveal the location of the stores that are under threat. It said that if any stores do close as a result of Pombury going into liquidation, the staff in those stores would be reassigned to some of its other outlets. A source rejected the suggestion that if all 10 stores closed, this would leave the remaining stores overstaffed.
CHC ASSETS PROBE ONGOING - Nearly three years after investigations into what happened in the collapse of Custom House Capital (CHC), it is still unclear as to what assets the company owns. In response to a parliamentary question from Fine Gael’s Eoghan Murphy, the minister for finance said it was still working to figure out to whom certain assets, such as properties abroad, belong. Minister Micheal Noonan said the investigation into the ownership and liquidation of assets was complicated by the company’s deception and legislation surrounding pension holdings, reports the Irish Examiner. "As identified in the Final Inspectors Report, there was large-scale misuse of client holdings and systematic deception by CHC that caused uncertainty surrounding the legitimate ownership of all client holdings. As a result, this is not a routine liquidation and, in the interests of all clients, the legitimate ownership of holdings must be established before any payment or return of holdings can be made to any client. The situation is further complicated by the fact that in many cases these holdings form part of various pension arrangements (e.g. ARFs, PRSAs) which are subject to additional legislation," the Minister said.
10% WIPED OFF VALUE OF NAMA LOANS AS AGENCY WARNS OF 'MAJOR CHALLENGE' - About 10% was wiped off the value of loans held by the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) in the first nine months of last year. The carrying value of the loans acquired by the state's bad bank totalled €20.7 billion at the end of September, down from €22.8 billion at the end of 2012, according to its latest quarterly accounts says the Irish Independent. Chairman Frank Daly and chief executive Brendan McDonagh, in a letter accompanying the accounts, said NAMA remains profitable despite a "prudent" impairment policy. NAMA also said it spent €3.4m on preparations to take on loans that are not sold by the special liquidators of the former Anglo Irish Bank, even though it hasn't yet taken on any. The agency warned that this would be a "major challenge" and said that it has been planning on the basis that it will acquire a significant portion of unsold assets. "Significant NAMA resources have been dedicated to this integration effort during the year, which will continue in 2014," the accounts said.
INDIA'S RAGHURAM RAJAN HITS OUT AT UNCO-ORDINATED GLOBAL POLICY - India‘s central bank governor has hit out at the US and other industrialised countries for running selfish economic policies as their recovery leads to turmoil in emerging markets, writes the Financial Times. Speaking a day after the US Federal Reserve moved to withdraw more of the monetary stimulus which fuelled strong inflows into developing countries, Raghuram Rajan said emerging markets had helped pull the world out of the 2008 financial crisis and should not be ignored now. India, Turkey and South Africa have all raised interest rates this week. This was in part to stop sharp devaluations fuelling inflation as investors switch into recovering developed countries such as the US, which on Thursday reported annualised growth of 3.2% in the last quarter of 2013. “International monetary co-operation has broken down,” Mr Rajan, a former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund, said in a Bloomberg India TV interview, two days after the Reserve Bank of India raised its main interest rate by 25 basis points to 8%.