GOOGLE MOVES TO SUBURBS FOR DUBLIN OFFICE SPACE - Google has signed a 52,900sq ft lease for office space in Sandyford in a move that marks a change of direction for the company’s real estate strategy, The Irish Times understands.
Until recently, Google had concentrated its office needs around Barrow Street, Dublin 4, in the so-called "silicon docks" area of Grand Canal. Additionally, the company recently leased an additional 51,000 sq ft of office space near its Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) headquarters on the corner of Grand Canal street and Clanwilliam Place. That office, the Irish Life owned Velasco building, was officially opened last Thursday. Velasco was the seventh building in Google’s Irish campus, bringing to €809 million the investment it has made in Ireland. The move into the Velasco building comes as Google focuses its attention on cloud, a growing area for the group. The move into Sandyford marks the first office signing outside of Dublin’s city centre for Google, which now employs around 7,000 staff, including contractors, in Ireland. Google will take up space in Kennedy Wilson’s "The Chase" development alongside pre-existing tenants including Mars and recruitment agency Service Source.
PERMANENT TSB TO WRITE OFF DEBTS OF OVER 1,000 LANDLORDS UNDER DEAL - More than 1,000 buy-to-let investors who are in arrears have responded to an offer by Permanent TSB to write off debts if they hand over their properties to the bank.
The take-up of the offer is understood to have surprised bank executives as they battle to lower their non-performing loans numbers. Under the scheme, landlords who are in default on their buy-to-let mortgage have to agree to hand back the property to the bank. In return, the residual debt owned on the investor mortgage is written off. The properties will then be sold on by the bank with the tenants in place. This is unusual as those selling investment properties often want vacant possession, says the Irish Independent. The scheme was announced by Permanent TSB last September with the expectation that just a few hundred under-pressure landlords would take it up. But more than 1,000 of them have indicated a willingness to avail of the offer. The move is thought to be particularly attractive for small investors and so-called accidental landlords, many of whom are struggling to meet repayments. The offer only applies to those the bank believes genuinely can't repay what they owe.
CALL FOR WIDER PROBE INTO ALL BANKS AFTER WALSH FINE - A finance expert has called on the Central Bank to investigate the operation of all the credit committees of the banks whose unsustainable lending during the boom years led to the crash and the €64 billion bill for taxpayers.
The call by Brian Lucey, professor of finance at Trinity College’s School of Business, comes after the Central Bank censured and imposed a fine of €20,000 on Michael Walsh, former non-executive chairman at Irish Nationwide Building Society. One reason the Central Bank cited for the settlement was the INBS "credit committee’s failure to function in accordance with INBS' internal policies". The settlement sees Mr Walsh banned from managing a regulated financial firm for three years. Mr Lucey said there has been no specific investigation into how all the credit committees at all the banks in the boom years had broken basic rules to lend billions to an overheated economy, says the Irish Examiner. "There has been no individual audit of the hygiene and the operations of these committees," he said. Of the €64 billion-plus that taxpayers pumped into all banks, INBS received €5.4 billion. Other observers have, in the past, pointed to the mystery of how credit committees and bank boards sanctioned lending excessive amounts to a single industry - commercial property.
TRUMP SEEKS 10 MORE YEARS TO BALANCE US BUDGET - The White House has proposed taking an additional decade to balance the US budget as it delivered a spending plan that relies on aggressive growth predictions to close a yawning budget gap, drawing increased scrutiny from financial markets.
The $4.4 trillion proposal for fiscal 2019 calls for $200 billion in infrastructure spending over the next decade. It was released days after Donald Trump approved a two-year spending bill that includes big increases in defence and domestic programmes. The budget is aspirational because Congress, rather than the president, controls the purse strings, says the Financial Times. But Mick Mulvaney, head of the budget office, said it was not "dead on arrival", as he urged Congress to take a more aggressive stance in tackling spending. "Is this dead on arrival? . . . Absolutely not. It simply highlights the fact that this is a messaging document," said Mr Mulvaney. "Number one, you don’t have to spend all of this money Congress, but if you do here is how we would prefer to see you spend it. The other message is that we do not have to have trillion dollar deficits for ever."