IRISH WATER TO BE SEPARATED FROM ERVIA AND MADE STANDALONE UTILITY - Irish Water is to be separated from Ervia and established as a single national utility to operate the State’s water services. 

The proposals, which were presented to Cabinet by Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy last Thursday for approval, will come into effect by 2023, The Irish Times has learned. It is understood the plans, approved by Cabinet, will allow for Irish Water to become solely responsible for the production, distribution and monitoring of drinking water and for the provision of public waste-water services. Currently the utility has service level agreements (SLAs) with local authorities to operate such services on its behalf, but under these new proposals such arrangements would be brought to an end by 2021. The ending of the agreements with city and county councils is likely to result in job losses at local authority level, but the precise details or the scale of such are not yet known. Government figures said Irish Water was always a standalone entity within the Ervia group. However, given the abolishing of domestic water charges and planned new oversight measures of Irish Water by the Comptroller and Auditor General, it "is time to separate it out of Ervia entirely".

CERBERUS WITHDRAWS FROM HOME LOAN DEALS - Cerberus's appetite for soured Irish home loans has come under scrutiny after the US private equity giant withdrew recently from Permanent TSB's €2.2 billion portfolio of non-performing residential mortgages. 

The New York-based distressed debt specialist dominated Europe's bad debt market in the wake of the crash and accumulated billions of euro worth of assets in Ireland, including owner-occupier mortgages in arrears. However, its enthusiasm for this corner of the market is now in doubt as legislators ramp up measures designed to make home repossessions more difficult amid a wider push to curb the reach of the so-called vulture funds, says the Irish Independent. Sources said international investors are increasingly concerned at the raft of reforms circulating in the Dáil. Last week, Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness urged cross-party support for a fresh bill aimed at keeping hard-pressed borrowers in their homes. He told the Dáil we are "repeatedly informed by the banks the protection for the mortgage holder travels with the loan. That is simply not true."

NEW TOURISM BRAND MAY BE COUNTRY'S HIDDEN WEAPON - With overseas visits to Ireland up by 7.6% for the first five months of 2018, it seems likely the current tourist season will deliver another record year in terms of revenue. 

North America and mainland Europe are both up over 12%, and arrivals from the UK are ahead by 2.4% - despite the fall in sterling and Brexit concerns. However, Fáilte Ireland is not resting on its laurels and has, in the past week, begun an advertising campaign for ‘Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands’, the country's latest tourism experience. Long overlooked and living in the shadow of the much higher profile Ancient East and Wild Atlantic Way, this midland region of lakes, walks, and blueways could well turn out to be a source of rich visitor revenue in the years ahead, says the Irish Examiner. Extending across the heart of the country, from Leitrim down to east Clare and through Longford, Roscommon, Galway, Westmeath, and Cavan, it offers an Ireland relatively untouched in comparison to the other well trafficked regions that surround it. A total of €2m has been allocated to start the development stage of the brand, with the ad campaign extending across radio and television, including TV3, The Sunday Game, Coronation Street, Fair City, and the RTÉ News.

BOEING WORKS TO AVERT US-CHINA TRADE WARE ESCALATION - Boeing is working actively behind the scenes to avert an escalation of the bitter US-China trade war, amid concerns about the risks for a company that is the top US exporter. 

Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing chairman and chief executive, said he was hopeful that the trade war would be resolved despite US proposals last week for tariffs on a further $200 billion worth of Chinese imports. Speaking ahead of the Farnborough air show in the UK, which opens on Monday, he told the Financial Times: "Our voice is being heard. We are engaged with the US government and with the Chinese government. I’m hopeful we’ll come to a good resolution." Although Mr Muilenburg said Boeing had not felt any impact from the US-China tariffs, nor from the new US duties on aluminium and steel imports, a person with knowledge of the situation said that its executives are meeting regularly with high-ranking administration officials. Analysts estimate that roughly 20-25% of the orders in Boeing's backlog are for Chinese customers, supporting thousands of US jobs. "The president is well aware of Boeing’s position," the person said. Concerns are growing that the trade dispute between the world's two biggest economies, along with a separate US offensive against aluminium and steel imports from the EU, Mexico and Canada, will hit global growth.