FOUR BIDS FOR NORTHSIDE SHOPPING CENTRE – The Irish Times reports that four bids have been received by the National Asset Management Agency for loans with a face-value of €225 million associated with Brian O’Farrell, the north Dublin developer and auctioneer.

The four bidders are CarVal Investors, Fortress Investment Group, Development Securities plc and Patron Capital Partners . They are believed to value assets in Mr O’Farrell’s portfolio at north of €50 million in the sale process which is co-named Project Drive.

NAMA put Mr O’Farrell’s loan portfolio, which includes the Northside Shopping Centre, a retail centre in Poland, a site in north Dublin, and a large house in the K Club, up for sale in February. EY, formerly Ernst & Young, is handing the sale of Project Drive.

Mr O’Farrell is one of the so-called Maple 10 developers lent money by Anglo Irish Bank to buy some of its shares that were formerly contracts for difference held by Seán Quinn.


NEW AGENCY SET TO MONITOR PRICING - A range of criminal investigation powers will be given to a new consumer protection agency to prosecute price-fixing cartels that push up prices for shoppers, according to The Irish Independent.

Offenders also face prohibition notices, compliance notices, on-the-spot fines for offences relating to price display and being named and shamed for failing to comply with consumer law.

Telephone and internet service providers will also be required to retain details of internet and call data for up to two years to ensure the data is available for the investigation, detection and prosecution of serious competition offences.

Agreements between competitors to fix prices, limit production or sales, or share markets or customers are regarded as costing consumers more through higher prices.


NEED TO INCENTIVISE BROADBAND INVESTMENT – The Irish Examiner reports on a UN conference held in Ireland at the weekend, which heard calls for greater Government incentives for the private sector to develop the infrastructure needed to roll out broadband, particularly to developing countries.

The UN Broadband Commission for Digital Development met in Dublin on Saturday and Sunday, with some of the most influential figures in the area of telecoms in attendance. 

Following the conference, the commission issued a statement saying that broadband could be the catalyst that would help lift some of the most disadvantaged countries in the world out of the poverty trap and help provide them with access to healthcare, education and basic social services. 

The conference was hosted by Irish telecoms entrepreneur Denis O’Brien. 


CO-OP BANK TO ATTEMPT FURTHER FUND RAISING - The Financial Times reports that Britain's Co-operative Bank is attempting to raise an additional £400m just three months after completing a sweeping £1.5bn recapitalisation, as a wave of fresh conduct charges have weakened its financial position.

The bank disclosed that it would take £400m of provisions for issues including mis-sold consumer products and a breach in the Consumer Credit Act, pushing it into an underlying pre-tax loss of £1.2bn-£1.3bn for last year.

It warned its core equity tier one ratio would drop to 7.2% at the end of 2013 – only a fraction above the 7 per cent regulatory minimum and significantly below its previous guidance of up to 9%.

“The increased losses mean we have started from a lower capital ratio than we’d like – we only have a thin sliver of surplus capital,” said Niall Booker, chief executive.