BOUCHER SET TO GET NOONAN’S APPROVAL FOR PAY PACKET - Michael Noonan has given the clearest indication yet that he will endorse Bank of Ireland boss Richie Boucher's €843,000 pay package at a shareholder vote next week, reports The Irish Independent.

It would be a sharp turnaround from last year, when Taoiseach Enda Kenny warned bank chief's to expect pay cuts.

Now, however, the Finance Minister has said he doesn't believe he can abstain again this year in the vote on the pay of Bank of Ireland chief Richie Boucher at the lender's AGM.

He told TDs and senators that the bank's activities had managed to enhance the value of the State's shareholding and that there had been cost reductions across the lender following the review of pay practices at the banks by consultants Mercer.

Addressing the Oireachtas Finance Committee, he quoted Judge Martin Nolan, who was presiding over the Anglo trial, as saying it would be unfair and wrong to treat individual bankers on the basis of legacy issues that came from the crash – signalling he may vote in favour of the pay packet.


EASONS STAFF VOTE AGAINST PAY CUTS – The Irish Times reports that 800 staff in Eason, the books-to-stationery retailer, have voted against pay cuts of between 4% and 10%. Staff voted against pay cuts by a ratio of 3:1.

They had been asked to consider wage cuts following a proposal that came out of the Labour Relations Commission which is facilitating talks with the company. Eason management is hoping to reduce its overall costs by €2.5 million by various measures including pay reductions.

The proposed pay cuts would have seen workers who were paid by the hour see their pay cut by 4% while staff paid every month would have their wages cut by between 4% and 10%. The matter is now expected to be referred for further discussions to the Labour Court.

A spokesman for Eason said “The company is reviewing this week’s decision.” He declined to comment further.


IRP REIT RAISES €200M IN STOCK MARKET LISTING – The Irish Examiner reports that Irish Residential Property REIT has raised €200 million in a stockmarket listing, meeting its target as it became the third such real estate investment trust to launch in Ireland in the last year.

It follows Green REIT and Hibernia REIT to the Irish market after the Government made changes to permit the establishment of REITs, which allow investors to own property via a company rather than being direct landlords.

Irish property prices are rising again, after plunging by around 50%.

US asset manager Franklin Templeton, which made one of the canniest trades in Europe’s debt crisis in buying Irish debt before the country started to recover, made a corner stone investment in Irish Residential Property REIT, it said in a statement yesterday.

Templeton put in €25m and was joined by Toronto-listed CAPREIT, which invested €40m. Ireland’s largest life assurance company, Irish Life Assurance plc, invested €24.2m and New York investment trust Fir Tree Partners €30m, Irish Residential Property REIT said.

Templeton also holds 7.5% of Green REIT.

“The company intends to use the funds raised to acquire a strong portfolio of multi-unit residential properties in Dublin and the other major urban centres,” Irish Residential Property REIT IRPR chief executive David Ehrlich said.

It has a portfolio of 338 residential units in the greater Dublin area valued at €45.5m.

Irish house prices rose by 0.1% month-on-month in February and were 8.1% higher than a year earlier.