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Wednesday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - July 23, 2014
By Finfacts Team
Jul 23, 2014 - 3:04 PM

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Irish Independent

BUST developer Sean Dunne kept the existence of a Swiss bank account secret, NAMA has claimed.

The sensational allegation was made after details of the account – allegedly controlled by Mr Dunne and his wife Gayle Killilea – were unearthed by the State's bad bank.

It said the Credit Suisse account was not among the 11 declared by Mr Dunne when he filed for bankruptcy in the US last year with debts of €695m.

The agency, which is owed €185m by Mr Dunne, is now taking legal steps in a bid to force him to surrender information about it.

The move comes after a separate law suit involving Mr Dunne last year heard claims that the Carlow-born businessman pledged to invest $1m (€745,000) from a Swiss account in a New York builder's business.

While no documentary evidence of the account was produced in that court case, NAMA says it has unearthed bank statements which indicate a Swiss account existed.

IRELAND'S controversial upward only rent review was put firmly back in the spotlight when Bewley's lost a legal challenge against the €1.46m it hands over each year.

It's not even a month since our Supreme Court ruled that the iconic cafe remains tied to its boom-time contract with landlord Ickendel Limited for another three years. Ickendel is controlled by developer Johnny Ronan and NAMA.

But what's happening 
on the ground?

Rents, according to the Cushman & Wakefield survey, were $288 (€214) per square foot on Ireland's most expensive street, Grafton Street, last year. More than 10 times less than Hong Kong's Causeway Bay which topped the table at €3,017 per square foot a year.

New York's Fifth Avenue demanded $2,500, with $1,601 paid in Avenue des Champs-Elysees, Paris. A square foot in London's New Bond Street cost $1,047 a year.

The Financial Times, the world’s preeminent economics newspaper and the most credible financial publication, which is read by the world’s most influential decision makers, wants to be the global media partner for a small economics festival in Kilkenny.

This means that the eyes of the world will be on Kilkenny. Some of the most influential writers and columnists in the world of business will be writing from the city and the festival in the first week of November. For the festival it is a great development, because we aim to give it global flavour while keeping it in a local setting.

According to the Financial Times, the partnership is not undeserved. In its review of the festival last year, the FT wrote the following:

“All weekend, Kilkenny’s theatres and bars were packed for what is probably the only comedy economics festival on earth. Kilkenomics has been described as ‘Davos with jokes’ and ‘Davos without hookers’. It may be a model for the world.

Irish Times

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has signalled “less cut backs and less tax increases” than previously expected in October’s budget.

Speaking on his way into this morning’s Cabinet meeting, Mr Noonan said the Government would beat its financial target because the first six months of the year had gone better than expected in economic terms.

“We thought it would be necessary to increase tax and cut expenditure by €2 billion. We’ll get under three per cent now by making less cut backs and less tax increases,” he said.

The European Commission has ordered Ryanair to repay nearly €10 million in illegal state aid it received from France for operating at three small regional airports.

The Commission said the French support, which consisted of contractual rebates and airport and marketing deals, gave the world’s biggest budget airline an unfair advantage.

Ryanair said it would appeal the “erroneous” decision. The EU competition watchdog said Ryanair would have to pay back about €6.4 million related to aid received for operating at Nimes Airport, the subject of an Air France complaint.

Greece’s economy should grow 0.7 per cent this year, pulling clear of a six-year recession, but its soaring unemployment rate is likely to drop less than hoped, the country’s leading economic think tank said today.

The IOBE research institute had earlier predicted a small expansion for the year, without setting a forecast. Its GDP growth projection is broadly in line with the European Union and International Monetary Fund estimate of 0.6 percent.

Irish Examiner

More than 80% of small and medium-sized businesses aren’t confident that the economy will experience a steady recovery.

That’s according to a new survey carried out by Close Brothers Invoice Finance, who surveyed almost 50 Irish firms as part of a larger study conducted on the Irish and UK markets.

Managing director of Close Brothers Ireland, Harry Parkinson said that a lack of confidence in the recovery of the economy is hampering firms’ growth.

“SMEs are clearly still worried about the state of the economic recovery, resulting in a lack of confidence about growth.

“Now that the economy is starting to recover, the finance industry needs to inspire businesses about the possibilities and opportunities in this improving environment,” said Mr Parkinson.

Europe

Euro Topics: The EU's foreign ministers were unable to agree on further sanctions against Russia on Tuesday. Instead they tasked the European Commission with examining measures such as an arms embargo by Thursday. Commentators criticise the fact that harsh economic sanctions weren't imposed immediately and call on the EU to finally adopt a united stance vis-à-vis Moscow.

Europe barks but doesn't bite: Europe's tone against Moscow has become harsher but that's not enough, the left-liberal Dutch daily De Volkskrant argues: "Dogs that bark don't bite. Some of the countries that sent a last warning to Putin yesterday were still arguing about concrete measures only shortly before. A typical example was President Hollande's insistence on selling at least one Mistral warship to Moscow [rather than two as planned]. ... The Netherlands must now adopt a leading role to end Europe's lack of unity. Putin's dreadful decision in favour of ethno-nationalism and escapades abroad can only be countered if his 'European partners' make it clear this won't be tolerated. ... There's no choice: Putin's power can only be reined in by an effective counterweight."

Shilly-shallying over sanctions: A divided community in which each state pursues its own interests is hardly trustworthy, the liberal business Italian daily Il Sole 24 Ore laments: "When it comes to relations with Russia every country in Europe has more than one skeleton in the closet. ... How much longer can Europe entertain the illusion that it can put its short-term economic interests above all ethical and strategic considerations without paying a high price? The model of the economic giant resting on the laurels of its single market and single currency without bothering about anything else no longer functions. ... The need for a common foreign policy and defence can no longer be ignored. But instead Europe is sticking to little games with the slide rule of sanctions: one for you, one for me, or perhaps none at all. It won't get very far with this approach."

Spain's painful bank bailout: The Spanish state on Monday sold the Catalunya Banc, which was nationalised in the wake of the banking crisis, to the BBVA bank for just under €1.2bn. The overhaul of the Catalan financial institute is seen as one of the final steps in Spain's bank bailout operation. The left-liberal daily El Periódico de Catalunya is less than enthusiastic about the results: "We must conclude that many mistakes were made during the economic boom, but that things weren't done any better once the extent of the tragedy had become clear. Instead of intervening quickly as was done in other countries, we strived to convey the impression that we had the most solid banking system in the world (as [then prime minister] Zapatero said in September 2008). Then came the promise that the money spent on bailing out the banks wouldn't cost the taxpayers a single cent (as Guindos [minister for economic affairs] said in June 2012). And this is all the more painful given that virtually none of those to blame for the disaster has been called to account."


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