Tuesday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - July 22, 2014
By Finfacts Team
Jul 22, 2014 - 8:54 AM

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Irish Independent

Russia's richest businesspeople are increasingly frantic that President Vladimir Putin's policies in Ukraine will lead to crippling sanctions - but are too scared of reprisal to say so publicly, according to billionaires and analysts.

If Mr Putin doesn't move to end the war in Ukraine in the wake of last week's downing of a Malaysia Air jet in rebel-held territory, he risks becoming an international outcast like Belarus' Aleksandr Lukashenko, whom the US famously labeled Europe's last dictator, one Russian billionaire said on condition of anonymity.

"The economic and business elite is just in horror," said Igor Bunin, who heads the Centre for Political Technology in Moscow. Nobody will speak out because of the implicit threat of retribution, Bunin added. "Any sign of rebellion and they'll be brought to their knees."

The downing of the Malaysian airliner, which killed 298 people, led to renewed threats of deeper penalties by the US and EU, who have already sanctioned Russian individuals and companies deemed complicit in fuelling the pro-Russian insurgency in Ukraine.

THE International Monetary Fund (IMF) has added a percentage point on to the interest being charged on Ireland’s bailout loan.

The State is now paying an estimated 4.99pc interest on the €22.5bn loan from the Washington-based lender – more than twice the cost Ireland is currently being charged to raise 10-year money on the international markets.

At 4.99pc of €22.5bn, the interest bill is €1.12bn.

The yield on Ireland’s 10-year-bond yesterday afternoon was 2.25pc, another record low and below both the UK and US. The State can borrow seven-year debt for 1.2pc per year. The IMF loan has an average maturity of about seven years.

At 1.2pc, the interest bill on €22.5bn would be €270m.

While that full saving would likely never be achieved, it shows the scale of the potential savings.

Karl Albrecht, the man credited with bringing discount stores to Europe with the no-frills Aldi supermarket chain, died aged 94 last Wednesday, German retailer Aldi said in a statement.

Publicity-shy Mr Albrecht co-founded Aldi with his brother Theo after World War II and 70 years later was ranked by ‘Forbes’ as Germany’s richest person with a fortune of almost $26bn.

He resigned from the operational business in 1994 and stepped down from the company’s advisory board in 2002.

The Albrecht family did not issue a statement. It has fiercely guarded its privacy since the kidnapping of Theo for 17 days in 1971. He was eventually released after a ransom of about $3m was paid.

Irish Times

Bord na Móna, which yesterday announced a tripling of its annual profits, expressed its “frustration” over perceived delays from Irish Water in assessing a proposal by it to flood a midlands bog to plug water shortages in Dublin.

“I’m sure Irish Water is not intentionally dragging its feet and that it’s very busy,” said Gabriel d’Arcy, Bord na Móna’s chief executive. “But there has been little or no movement in two years on this much-needed project and I don’t know why. It’s very frustrating. The logic for the project is outstanding and I just feel that the thing needs to crack on at this stage.”

Japan’s government slightly lowered its growth forecast for the current fiscal year due to sluggish exports and a drop in demand after the April sales-tax hike, but the forecasts were largely in line with the Bank of Japan’s projections.

Members of the government’s top advisory panel did not object to the BOJ’s view that consumer prices will continue to rise under its quantitative easing programme, showing there is little difference between the government’s and the BOJ’s assessment of the economy.

The convergence of views suggests the BOJ is unlikely to face pressure from the government to ease monetary policy further as the government turns its attention to compiling next fiscal year’s budget.

Businessman Bill Cullen has told the Commercial Court there is “no doubt” his €11.5 million debt to Ulster Bank will be cleared and he became “so irritated” over the approach of receivers in selling assets of his companies he decided to take legal proceedings.

Mr Cullen, representing himself, said receivers appointed by the bank have reached agreements for sale of some five properties for €8.3 million. There was another eight to be sold and it was “clear” the bank would get its money, he said.

His “real target” in the case he had brought was the bank and its receivers and he “might not have got the best advice” in joining more than 20 other parties as defendants, including companies, individual solicitors and estate agents acting in the intended sales, he told Mr Justice Peter Kelly. He needed time to get the legal documents together for his case and perhaps seek legal representation, he added. He was concerned the sales were depriving him of money to which he was entitled and could use for his business.

Irish Examiner

Mainstream Renewable Power is understood to have fully pulled the plug on its €6b energy bridge project aimed at exporting 5,000 megawatts of power to Britain and generating nearly €3bn in annual export revenue.

While the Government’s ambitious €15bn plan to export wind-generated energy to the UK — from 1,000 new wind turbines across the midland counties — has been put on hold, Mainstream seems to be the only one of the three individual project participants to have fully walked away.

It is understood that Mainstream has opted to return 2.7 gigawatts of connection offers secured with the UK’s National Grid for the project, something which has suggested to the industry that Mainstream will not now be involved in the project should it be resurrected. No company representative could be reached to comment on the matter.

While a memorandum of understanding between the Irish and British governments was signed early last year, a formal inter-governmental agreement green-lighting renewable energy trade has not been reached and won’t be in time for the proposed project to get under way by 2017.


Euro Topics: Civilians are main victims of modern wars: The international community must call to account those who turn civilians into victims in conflict areas like eastern Ukraine and Gaza, columnist Joan Smithe demands in the left-liberal London daily The Independent: "The conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza are very different but they have this in common: as in almost all modern wars, the people who suffer most are civilians. ... There is a danger, when so many civilians are dying - the total number of dead in Gaza rose above 300 yesterday - that it starts to seem inevitable. But it is happening because of a reluctance by the international community to restore and enforce the rule of law. ... It shouldn't take mass murder in the sky over Ukraine to persuade our leaders that they need to identify and prosecute those who commit war crimes, no matter how important they are."

Germany: UN troops must establish peace by force: The plane tragedy in eastern Ukraine is forcing all involved parties to come to their senses, Germany's news magazine Der Spiegel writes and calls for an international commission to investigate the crash, a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine and "the deployment of a 'robust 'UN-approved mission that is detailed not just to maintain peace but has permission to fire and to establish peace. It's true, such UN missions, for example that in Congo, have failed miserably in the past. And with such neutral troops, there is the danger of eastern Ukraine becoming a 'frozen' centre of conflict. ... In other words, the risk that the government of Ukraine won't attain its legitimate right to autonomously determine the fate of eastern Ukraine in the near future. But right now this is by far the lesser evil compared to all other scenarios. Peace can and must be forced on the country."

First World War an eternal mystery: One hundred years after the outbreak of World War I, new publications and media reports continue to captivate readers. The weekly Swiss magazine l'Hebdo offers an explanation: "The absurdity of this war that should have been the last fascinates modern observers. Every question it raises touches on the very essence of mankind and history. How can nations have engaged in such cruel slaughter in a war that it seems no one even wanted? ... Passionate studies continue to shed new light on a conflict that remains surprisingly mysterious in many respects. The huge body of sources leaves room for no end of new interpretations. How could it be any different for a war the blame for which cannot be pinned on a single person? There was never a problem with allotting the role of bad guy in 1939. But 1914 is another matter entirely."

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