CONTROL OF €6 BILLION RETAIL GROUP MOVES HERE - Value Retail, the owner of Kildare Village fashion retail centre, has shifted control of its almost €6 billion European portfolio of outlets centres from the UK to its Irish operation, in a move that the company says was spurred by Brexit. 

The Value Retail group is backed by Hammerson, the UK listed co-owner of Dundrum Town Centre, and Scott Malkin, a New York property heir whose father owned the Empire State Building. In addition to Kildare Village, it also owns eight other outlets centres in Spain, Italy, France, Belgium, Germany and the UK, including the huge Bicester Village near London. They generated retail sales last year of €2.9 billion across more than 1,000 outlet stores, with brands such as Armani and Calvin Klein, says the Irish Times. In recent weeks, Value Retail Management Ireland, the local entity that runs Kildare Village, has assumed ownership stakes in seven of the eight of the other European centres. It issued shares at nominal values to group companies in the UK as consideration for assuming control in a sweeping restructuring. The Irish company has taken complete control of Value Retail’s operation in Germany, where it has centres in Frankfurt and Munich, and Italy, where it operates Fidenza Village near Bologna. Company documents show that the Irish company has also assumed stakes in the Spanish operation, which includes La Roca Village in Barcelona, Brussels, and France, which includes the famous La Vallée Village in Paris. It is unclear from the documents whether these are majority or minority stakes. Control of Bicester Village did not transfer to the Kildare Village entity.


UK HEDGE FUND TAKES €58m PUNT ON PADDY POWER'S SHARE PRICE FALLING - London-based hedge fund Marshall Wace has taken a £50m (€58m) punt against Paddy Power Betfair, betting that shares in the gambling group will fall. 

The hedge fund, with about $39 billion (€35 billion) of assets under management, has taken a short position on almost 1% of Paddy Power Betfair's stock, according to Central Bank data. Shares in Paddy Power Betfair are currently trading about 29% lower than the high of roughly £91 (€105) they reached over the past 12 months - in May last year - says the Irish Independent. When investors short a share, they are betting the share price will drop. They borrow the company's shares from other shareholders and can profit if the price falls by buying back shares at a lower price to return them to their original owner. Short positions can turn sour if the share price rises. Paddy Power Betfair saw its underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation fall 5% to £451m (€522m) last year as it shouldered costs associated with its expansion into the United States. The group's revenue rose 7% to £1.87 billion (€2.1 billion) last year, and said that its Paddy Power brand had continued to retake online market share in the UK. Earlier this month, the UK's Gambling Commission made Paddy Power Betfair remove newly launched products in its stores that the regulator said may undermine the new introduction of reduced stakes on fixed-odds betting terminals. The maximum stakes were slashed from £100 to £2. 

HOPE FOR THOSE AT RISK OF REPOSSESSION - Earlier this month, a decision from a High Court case was posted on the website of the Courts Service of Ireland. 

It didn't warrant any huge public or media attention. It may have barely registered with the majority of the busy legal community. However, this under-the-radar decision could prove to be quite an important milestone, and perhaps rare welcome news, for the thousands of individuals and families at risk of losing their home through possession, writes the Irish Examiner. Most recent Central Bank statistics indicate that there are still over 60,000 mortgages in arrears in Ireland, of which over 25,000 are in arrears for more than two years. There are an estimated 20,000 possession cases before our courts. Significantly, the decision confirms that Irish courts must protect consumers’ rights under EU law in mortgage arrears cases. In his judgement in Grant v County Laois Registrar Mr Justice McDermott confirmed that Judges and Circuit Court Registrars, who are dealing with possession cases, are now obliged to assess mortgage documents for unfair mortgage terms on their own initiative - in other words, they have to do so without being asked by the borrowers. They will then have to delete any terms they find unfair before entering a possession order, in accordance with the EU Unfair Terms Contract Directive (UTCD). This directive has been in force in Ireland since 1993 but its implementation has been scant. 

'TAKE CONTROL OF RAILWAYS AWAY FROM UK GOVERNMENT' - The UK rail industry is to call for the present train franchise system to be scrapped, that long-distance routes are opened up to competition between multiple operators and that commuter services into London and around leading cities come under the control of local authorities. 

This week the Rail Delivery Group, which represents the privately owned train operators as well as Network Rail, the state-controlled track, signalling and station company, will make the most significant intervention in the government’s root-and-branch review of the railways, says The Times. Chris Grayling, 57, the much-criticised transport secretary, has commissioned Keith Williams, a former chief executive of British Airways and chairman-elect of Royal Mail, to deliver a report on the future of what is seen by some as a failing railway industry. Mr Williams,  62, has been asked to deliver a report in the autumn, which Mr Grayling has pledged to turn into a government white paper. It is understood that the Rail Delivery Group will tell Mr Williams that operational control of the railways needs to be wrested back from ministers and public servants. It will argue that control should be placed, instead, with an independent organisational body, an echo of the Strategic Rail Authority that was created at privatisation two decades ago but disbanded by Tony Blair's government.