AIB TO SELL MORE THAN €1 BILLION OF TOXIC DEBT - AIB is ramping up preparations for its latest sale of toxic debt, code-naming the process Project Alder, with sources suggesting the value of the loans to be sold is set to top €1 billion. 

Market sources said that the bank is expected to bring the loan book to market later this year, with a deal expected to close before the end of the year, says the Irish Times. However, the bank is not likely to include large tranches of mortgages secured on family homes, the prospect of which has proven to be politically contentious in recent years. As a majority State-owned bank, the large-scale sale of family home loans could prove particularly problematic for AIB. While some principal dwelling home (PDH) loans may end up in the final Project Alder loan sale, it will primarily be focused on other categories of non-performing loans (NPLs). These will include small business and other corporate loans. A PDH loan taken out by an individual or other "borrower connection" may end up being sold along with the borrower’s commercial loans, as was the case with AIB's previous book of problem debt, Project Beech, which was sold to US investment fund Cerberus earlier this year. Around 220 owner-occupier mortgages were included in that sale.

INTEL GETS GO-AHEAD FROM COUNCIL FOR €3.5 BILLION PLANT IN LEIXLIP - Kildare County Council has given the green light to plans by Intel for its planned new $4 billion (€3.53 billion) manufacturing fabrication (fab) facility at its Leixlip plant. 

The planning authority has given the chip giant the go-ahead in spite of a small number of objections against the proposal including one from long-time planning opponent of Intel at Leixlip, local farmer Thomas Reid. The 10-year permission to Intel will provide a windfall for Kildare County Council - if work on the project proceeds, writes the Irish Independent. This follows the council, in response to the scale of the project, including in one of the 34 conditions attached to the permission a requirement that Intel Ireland Ltd pay the council €9.723m in development contributions. The planning permission comes three years after Intel secured planning permission for the first phase of the 'fab' facility valued at $4 billion. In total, the two planning permissions represent an $8 billion investment which will employ 6,000 construction workers at peak and 1,600 full-time jobs on completion. The projects represent the largest single private investment in the history of the State on one project if given the go-ahead by Intel globally. Consultants for Intel have told the council that the firm has already invested $12.5 billion at its Leixlip site. However, the council's grant of planning permission is almost certainly to be appealed to An Bord Pleanála.

HOLIDAY BOOKING FRAUD SEES €12m LOST IN LAST YEAR - Over 180,000 adults in Ireland have at least once been a victim of holiday booking fraud, new figures show. 

In the past 12 months, 25,000 bookings have been affected, with an average loss of €451 per booking. This amounts to almost €12m of personal losses within the last year. According to iReach Insights, most of the bookings were made on a website (59%), smartphone (36%) or via e-mail (20%) and were mainly paid by credit card (64%). Only 20% of the bookings indicated that they paid cash, says the Irish Examiner. Almost half of those that experienced a booking fraud said they have been deceived at least two times or more.  Of those deceived, 59% obtained a legitimate replacement booking, 34% indicated that they did not claim under holiday insurance so they lost money, while the remaining 7% claimed and received refunds under holiday insurance.

CRYPTOCURRENCY SCAMS TRIPLE IN A YEAR - AT £27m TOTAL COST TO VICTIMS - Investment scams involving cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and foreign currency trading have tripled in a year, with the average victim losing £14,600, according to the UK's Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). 

The regulator and the police-run body Action Fraud are warning the public to be wary, with the scams typically promising high returns and carried out via bogus online trading platforms. More than £27m was lost to frauds involving so-called crypto-assets and forex investments in 2018-19, said the FCA. Crypto-assets is a broad term covering many different types of products. The most popular include tokens such as bitcoin and litecoin, writes today's Guardian. The FCA calls these "exchange tokens", though they are often referred to as cryptocurrencies, cryptocoins or payment tokens. The number of such scams reported more than tripled last year to 1,834, from 530 in 2017-18. Fraudsters often used social media to promote their "get rich quick" online trading platforms, the FCA said. Posts often used fake celebrity endorsements and images of luxury items such as expensive watches and cars, that link to professional-looking websites where consumers are persuaded to invest.