Monday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - June 24, 2013
By Finfacts Team
Jun 24, 2013 - 7:14 AM

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Irish Independent

TAPE RECORDINGS from inside doomed Anglo Irish Bank reveal for the first time how the bank's top executives lied to the Government about the true extent of losses at the institution.

The astonishing tapes show senior manager John Bowe, who had been involved in negotiations with the Central Bank, laughing and joking as he tells another senior manager, Peter Fitzgerald, how Anglo was luring the State into giving it billions of euro.

Mr Fitzgerald had not been involved in the negotiations with the Central Bank and has confirmed he was unaware of any strategy or intention to mislead the authorities. Mr Bowe, in a statement last night, categorically denied that he had misled the Central Bank.

The audio recordings are from the bank's own internal telephone system and date from the heart of the financial crisis that brought the State to its knees in September 2008.

The Anglo Tapes provide a unique insight into the go-go culture at Anglo Irish Bank in the aftermath of the boom.

It was a bank that prided itself on being the outsider bank, less smooth than the traditional big banks but leaner, smarter and faster.

John Bowe and Peter Fitzgerald were seasoned Anglo insiders. They had both been with the bank right through the boom in senior positions and were completely absorbed in its driven, no-holds-barred culture.

A typical conversation between any two senior executives at the bank at that time would probably have featured the same colourful language and what Mr Bowe unconvincingly claimed was "gallows humour".

Telefonica has agreed to sell its Irish unit O2 for €780 million to Hutchison Whampoa subsidiary 3 Ireland, Hutchison said in a statement this morning.

The deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, includes an additional deferred payment of €70 million after the achievement of agreed financial targets, the statement said.

NAMA is "monitoring closely" the increasingly bitter takeover battle for 16 former Treasury Holdings buildings in Dublin and Cork, the Irish Independent has learned.

The National Asset Management Agency was thought to have exited any involvement in the portfolio that includes the Stillorgan Shopping Centre and Bank of Ireland's Dublin headquarters when it sold an €85m junior loan secured on the buildings earlier this year to US-based Northwood Partners for a rumoured €100,000.

But sources in Dublin say NAMA managers will be watching Wednesday's vote with interest because they kept an indirect interest in the loan even after the sale.

Irish Times

All the money so far provided from a funding boost for autism services announced by Minister for Health James Reilly last year has been spent on cutting waiting lists for children with the condition in his political heartland in north Dublin, newly released documents show.

Just €300,000 of the €3 million promised over three years by Dr Reilly in January 2012 has so far been allocated, all of it to north Dublin, according to the documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

Traditionally the Irish, who can sing the dead to sleep, have been good at organising wakes. The financial wake of 2008 is another matter.

2008 will be known as the year that initiated the great financial crisis, just as 1847 has gone down as “Black 47”, the year when the Great Famine peaked. “Black 47” involved a massive loss of population and a debilitating legacy of emigration. “Black 2008”, while not as catastrophic in human terms, caused extensive damage to a sizeable part of Ireland’s economic fabric and had major repercussions for all parts of Irish society.

Our recent book (The Fall of the Celtic Tiger: Ireland and the Euro Debt Crisis, Oxford University Press) seeks to provide a balanced assessment of the main domestic and international forces that help to explain Ireland’s economic crisis that was triggered in September 2008. Based on a detailed and analytical examination of all the available evidence, the book shows how Ireland experienced four crises – a property crisis, a banking crisis, a fiscal crisis and a financial crisis. It addresses several key questions.

Vodafone has agreed to buy Germany’s largest cable operator Kabel Deutschland for €7.7 billion, making its biggest deal since 2007 a bet on TV and fixed line services to protect its most important market in Europe.

Announcing its second major acquisition for a European fixed-line network in 12 months, Vodafone said it would pay €87 euros per share for the group to enable it to offer more competitive packages with TV, fixed-line and broadband services to its existing mobile customers. The board of Kabel Deutschland said it expected to recommend the offer to its shareholders, meaning Vodafone has likely snatched the company from under the nose of John Malone’s Liberty Global which entered the bidding fray in recent weeks.

The State’s next lottery operator will be required to base its operation in Ireland for corporation tax purposes, Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin has said.

The Minister also said he was confident the new licensing arrangements would boost the annual contribution to good causes by up to €75 million within five years.

Mr Howlin said the next licence-holder would be obliged to incorporate as a company in this jurisdiction and to pay corporation tax for the first time.

He was responding to concerns that if an international operator wins the licence, it may attempt to run the franchise from abroad and to avoid its full tax liability here.

Irish Examiner

At least one small business has lost thousands of euro due to Digiweb’s attempts to upgrade their servers resulting in websites and emails not working.

A web developer told the Irish Examiner that one business he was involved in had lost €5,000 as they had been unable to take bookings due to the email system crashing.

The developer, who did not want to be named, said that the service had been out of commission for nearly a month and that he had received no help from the company.

“I am reasonable but it has been down for 19 days and I am between €4,000 and €5,000 out of pocket. It is just crazy,” he said.

The problem with the service has been so bad that one of the web developer’s clients has threatened to bring him to court over loss of earning as his website has not been operational.

The rich are getting richer.

That’s the conclusion of the World Wealth Report, the landmark annual study of the world’s millionaires, which was released this week by RBC Wealth Management and Capgemini Financial Services.

The report found that the number of people in the world with more than $1m (€755,000) to invest soared to a record of 12m in 2012, a 9.2% increase over 2011. The aggregate wealth of this group hit a new high, too — $46.2 trillion — a 10% increase over the previous year.

What is particularly striking is that even within this rich group, the very, very rich are doing best of all. The ranks of the ultra-rich, whom the report defines as people with investable assets of at least $30m, surged 11%, an even greater rate than the mere millionaires. This small sliver of the global population — 111,000 people — accounted for 35.2% of the entire wealth of all the world’s millionaires taken together.


Presseurop: A Europe of regions in which political leaders set aside national interests: that is how the Vienna-based writer Robert Menasse sees post-national Europe. Trouw interviewed him following the publication in the Netherlands of his book “The European Courier”.

Antoine Verbij, says in Trouw, the Dutch newspaper: “I once called on someone who worked for the European Commission. Through his window in the Brussels Berlaymont building he had a view over Wetstraat, of the Justus Lipsius building of the European Council. The contempt and hatred with which he looked across the road! The European Commission puts in such effort to build up Europe, but they are continually encountering resistance from the representatives of national interests on the European Council!”

Between March 2010 and the end of 2012 the Austrian writer Robert Menasse travelled back and forth between his native Vienna and the administrative centre of Europe, Brussels. His plan was to do research for a novel centred around Brussels bureaucracy. “I had barely got there when the Greek crisis occurred. Normal life disappeared. Everyone was only talking about the crisis.”

The Eurogroup met in Luxembourg on June 20 and 21 to prepare the groundwork for a banking union, first floated last summer as a way to avoid a return of the debt crisis. Late on Friday night, finance minister reached an agreement in principle to use funds from the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) to recapitalise banks suffering liquidity problems, writes Volkskrant, the Dutch daily.

In all, the ESM will make €60bn available to be invested in banking shares from 2014. For the Dutch newspaper –

Direct financing via the ESM may put an end to the situation where national governments are forced to help their banks and subsequently find themselves in difficulty.

Euro Topics: Following Fed chief Ben Bernanke's announcement that the expansive monetary policy will soon end, stock markets across the globe dipped on Thursday. The US central bank plans to cut down on purchases of government bonds already this year, and end them entirely by mid-2014. Since the party can't go on forever, this step is inevitable, commentators note, but are optimistic that the financial markets will soon pick up thanks to healthy growth.

The US Federal Reserve's move away from its extremely lax monetary policy is unavoidable, the Belgian business paper De Tijd contends: "One can only hope that the expectations of the Fed chairman prove correct. Otherwise there will be a serious problem. Of course the Fed can once again have recourse to the money pump if disaster looms, and for example if the economy collapses again in 2014. But sooner or later the real economy has to break free of the artificial support provided by the central banks. ... When a medication is taken for so long that it leads to dependency, it's hard to break the habit. But it's necessary all the same. At some point we have to return to a normal state of affairs in which interest rates rise and and the money tap is turned off."

The US National Security Agency has prevented more than 50 terrorist attacks with the controversial Internet surveillance programme Prism, NSA head Keith Alexander announced on Tuesday. America's hegemony in the worldwide web was made possible by the monopoly situation of the US Internet companies, the left-liberal Austrian weekly magazine Profil notes: "The US's close cooperation with the big Internet companies is only possible because they're all 'made in USA'. ... In fact almost the entire hard- and software that runs the Internet is firmly in American hands. ... The Europeans, however, who are now making such a show of being outraged at the US intelligence's thirst for data, should ask themselves why they did nothing to prevent the formation of an American quasi-monopoly in everything that makes up modern communications. ... In any event the United States' sheer omnipotence in this sphere, which will in all probability be decisive for the future, once again makes all the trendy talk of the decline of America look laughable."

US President Barack Obama's visit to German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Wednesday highlighted certain similarities between the two leaders, columnist Mary Dejevsky writes in the left-liberal UK daily The Independent, defending them against accusations that they dither on key issues: "Could it be that the more questioning approach of Obama and Merkel and their very reluctance to push themselves forward are qualities that are underrated in political leaders - qualities that actually help to explain their success?... As for accusations of dithering, there is no evidence that when the time comes for a decision to be taken, either Obama or Merkel has been found wanting. Put another way, there are times when a premature, ill-considered action is not decisive, but reckless. Obama and Merkel still have time to make mistakes. But thus far their just-in-time decisions, made carefully, after due consideration of the facts, are at least as effective as any other kind, and infinitely better suited to our perilous times."

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