The Dublin International Insurance and Management Association is holding its annual conference today with risk management, regulation and prospects for growth in the industry here the key topics for debate. Irish insurers say the regulatory regime here is tougher than in other EU countries, according to a survey by consultants PwC ahead of today's conference. The association identifies the regulatory burden as the top challenge facing the industry here.
DIMA chief executive Sarah Goddard says that over the last few years and since the implementation of the "roadmap" into a new regulatory environment across Europe which comes into effect in 2016, Ireland has been ahead of the game in a lot of cases in putting in what is basically a risk based regulatory system. That has presented challenges to the industry here, Ms Goddard admits. On the recent problems at RSA Ireland, Ms Goddard says that one could argue that maybe the problems at the firm were not a failure of regulation as it was the regulator who actually identified some of the difficulties several months in advance, had been highlighting them to the group and had made sure that the group had put in new capital. She said the insurer is now in a situation where it is now funded to the relevant levels, there was no call for any funds from the policy protection fund and the company is back in an "operational state".
The PwC survey also shows that about a third of the association's membership is very confident about the prospects of business growth this year and next - essentially a tripling of confidence since this time last year. Ms Goddard says that with various factors now in play including more confidence from the external markets, especially since the completion of the bailout programme, and the general positivity we are seeing around the country, the country's prospects are looking better and better.
MORNING BRIEFS - KBC Bank Ireland has reported a sharp drop in amounts written off to cover loan losses.
Its impairment charge for the first quarter of the year was €48m compared to €99m in the same period last year. Over the final three months of 2013, KBC wrote off €773m on problem loans in Ireland following a review of its activities here.
*** Despite finishing second in the English Premier League, Liverpool took in more revenue from their campaign than eventual champions Manchester City. After the distribution of prize money and cash from a lucrative new TV rights deal Liverpool's league revenue came to £97.5m (€119m) £900,000 more than Manchester City. Liverpool's revenue was enhanced by the fact it played three more live, televised matches than City.
*** Peter Praet, a member of the European Central Bank's executive board, confirmed the ECB is looking at negative deposit rates as part of a package of measures aimed at combating low inflation in the euro zone. At its most recent monthly governing council meeting ECB president Mario Draghi said the bank would be "comfortable" with taking action on rates in June. That has been widely interpreted as a signal it will cut its benchmark interest rate, the one which affects tracker mortgages. But Mr Praet's comments, in an interview with German media, confirm the bank is now considering penalising EU banks for leaving money on deposit with the ECB by charging them for doing so rather than paying interest on the deposits.
*** Media group UTV has recorded growth in both television and radio advertising revenue in Ireland, according to an interim statement to the stock exchange. UTV's radio stations include FM104 in Dublin, Limerick's Live 95 and Cork's 96FM. Radio revenues were up 9% during the first quarter in euro terms, 6% when translated back into sterling. It also reported an 11% rise in net television advertising revenue which it said was an "encouraging" return to growth in Ireland ahead of UTV's planned launch of a new television channel here in 2015.
*** UK retailers Carphone Warehouse and Dixons have agreed a £3.8 billion all-share merger, creating a phone, electronics and electrical appliance retail group with nearly 3,000 shops.