The European Financial Forum opens today in Dublin Castle. The event brings together international and Irish industry executives, policy makers, regulators and "thought leaders" to explore the disruptive forces that are shaping the financial sector and discuss where opportunities lie.

Speakers at the forum include Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe, Business, Enterprise and Innovation Minister Heather Humphreys, Minister of State Michael D'Arcy, European Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis and Central Bank Governor Philip Lane.

Also speaking at today's event is IDA Ireland chief executive Martin Shanahan. Welcoming the news that Bank of America has selected Dublin for its base after Brexit, he said the bank is exactly the type of investment that Ireland wants to attract. Mr Shanahan said that 15 financial services companies have already said they are choosing Dublin since Brexit was announced.


Acknowledging that while the housing issue is a challenge for companies, he welcomed that fact that the Government has made the issue one of its priorities. A new international school in Dublin is also due to open soon, he added, and Ireland's overall proposition is "going down very well" with investors and remains very strong. 

On the US tax reforms, Mr Shanahan said that while they will make the US more competitive, companies have said that tax is not the only issue for choosing Ireland as a destination. He predicted there will be marginal calls where firms do decide to remain in the US instead of coming to Europe - and Ireland - but he added that international companies have to internationalise in order to access markets and as they seek new talent and access to innovation. "There is no one country or continent which has a monopoly on these things," the IDA CEO stated.

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MORNING BRIEFS - Cryptocurrency Bitcoin is heading for its worst month in over four years. A short time ago Bitcoin was trading at just over $9,800 on Luxembourg's Bitsmap exchange. That is 30% lower than its dollar value at the turn of the year. Bitcoin enjoyed an incredible run in 2017, up 2,000% at one stage and is still way ahead of the $1,000 it was trading at this time last year but so far January has been a month to forget.

*** Private equity firm Blackstone has acquired a majority stake in the financial and risk business of Thomson Reuters for $17 billion. The deal sees Blackstone take a 55% share alongside Canada's Pension Plan Investment Board and Singaporean sovereign wealth fund GIC. The financial and risk division provides desktop terminals along with market data and analysis to institutions and individual investors. The deal does not cover Thomson Reuters news operations.

*** Bank of Ireland has provided redress and compensation to over 5,000 customers affected by tracker mortgage overcharging with a total cost of €68m. The bank's chief executive Francesca McDonagh provided an update on its progress in addressing the issue at the Oireachtas Finance Committee yesterday evening.

*** Bank of America will expand its headcount here having chosen Dublin for its EU base post Brexit but will not confirm how many new hires it will make in Ireland. In an interview with this morning's Financial Times, the chair of BofA's EU bank board Anne Finucane declined to give a specific number when asked about reports it would add up to 100 staff here. She said "it will certainly be larger than we have today and I think it will grow over time".