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Tuesday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - August 12, 2014
By Finfacts Team
Aug 12, 2014 - 1:25 PM

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Irish Independent

TWO former Anglo Irish Bank executives have appeared in court on charges connected to the alleged fraudulent securing of a loan for more than €8m.

Willie McAteer (63) and Pat Whelan (53) were both arrested by arrangement and brought before Dublin District Court.

They are charged with one count each of breaching the Companies Act at the now-defunct bank in 2008.

They are facing trial by judge and jury on the charges and Judge John O'Neill granted bail before adjourning the cases for the preparation of a book of evidence. Neither Mr McAteer, of Green Rath, Tipperary Town nor Mr Whelan, with an address at Coast Road, Co Dublin, spoke during the brief hearings yesterday.

A FINE Gael minister has moved to reassure 1.6m private sector workers they won't be left behind as the economy improves.

Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe's pointed emphasis on spreading the benefits of recovery across society came after Public Spending Minister Brendan Howlin's announcement on the restoration of pay cuts to the public sector made during the economic crisis.

Mr Howlin has stressed not all the 'emergency' pay cuts will be restored and any reversals will be done over time. Talks will begin next year with the first pay rises for public sector workers expected in late 2016 or 2017.

FYFFES shares plunged by as much as a fifth on Monday after its planned merger with banana giant Chiquita was rocked by a counter offer.

The two firms announced plans to merge last March but yesterday juicemaker Cutrale and Brazilian investment firm Safra made a surprise bid for Chiquita.

Cutrale and Safra are offering $13 a share for Chiquita. The cash offer would value the company at $610.5m (€456m) and represents a 29pc premium on Chiquita's closing share price last Friday.

In a letter to Chiquita shareholders, Cutrale and Safra said their offer faced fewer difficulties than the proposed Fyffes deal.

Irish Times

The social class of a school is a greater determinant of whether a Leaving Cert student will go to college than his or her family background, a study has revealed.

The ESRI (Economic and Social Research Institute) report highlights the importance of creating “a culture of high expectations” in all schools, as well as a “whole-school approach to guidance”.

It notes that students from working-class schools are much more dependant on career guidance counsellors for advice, a finding that would indicate the recent cuts in these posts will exacerbate educational inequality.

More than 28,000 commercial property units lay vacant in Ireland in the second quarter of 2014, an increase on the number of disused premises for the same period last year.

New research published today by GeoView shows that 28,013 of the country’s 223,152 commercial building stock were unused, increasing to 12.6 per cent from 11.9 per cent in 2013.

GeoView is published by GeoDirectory, an organisation established by An Post and Ordnance Survey Ireland to create and manage a national database of commercial and residential buildings. It is the sixth quarterly edition monitoring commercial trends.

Mortgage lending grew rapidly in the second quarter of the year, with both the number, and value, of loans reaching the highest level since Q2 2010.

According to the latest IBF/PwC Mortgage Market profile for the second quarter of the year, the value of mortgages drawn down increased to €820 million, up by 58.4 per cent on Q2 2013 and 44.3 per cent on Q1 2014.

The volume of loans also increased, up to 4,803, an increase of 40.2 per cent on Q1 2014, and 48.7 per cent on Q2 2013.

Lending however remains way off peak levels - as a comparison, in Q2 2006, the total value of loans was €10.1 million across 53,449 loans.

Irish Examiner

Fergus Finlay on John Bruton: Is he naïve? Stupid? Unthinking? Callous? Some combination of all of those qualities?

Or is he some kind of visionary, a prophet determined to speak truth to power?

Actually, John Bruton is none of the above. For all sorts of reasons though, he’s a million miles removed from the ordinary struggles of people’s lives. And that removal from other people’s realities has produced a leading public figure who seems incapable of genuinely understanding how most of the world around him lives. He has arrived at the point where it really is impossible to take him seriously any more. And that, in its own way, is a bit of a mini-tragedy.

I wasn’t going to write about John Bruton this week. I had in mind a piece about the miracle of West Cork, a place I wrote about a few months ago in the dead of winter. West Cork is still struggling — I suspect if you lived down here and had to listen to all the ráiméis on the radio about property bubbles, you’d be choking on your coffee — but in the summer the entire place really fights back. The most welcoming people in the world, the most rugged and beautiful coastline in the world, and an idiosyncratic and eclectic cultural scene, all conspire to give West Cork the air of a place that is determined to recover.

Europe

Euro Topics:  Iraq needs Europe's commitment: Europe must show more commitment in Iraq, the conservative Austrian daily Die Presse urges: "Delivering weapons to the Peshmerga fighters, as Paris is considering but Berlin refuses to do, would be a first step. Those opposed to this argue that the US should keep the chaos under control with its bombs. After all, they were the ones that started the whole mess with the 2003 Iraq War. ... But big European nations like England or Poland also went to war with the US. While the US government bears more responsibility, the extremists represent a greater danger for Europe, which is much closer. However it is not just Europe that is hesitating: for now the United Nations has confined itself to issuing statements of consternation. Unlike in 2003 when the Security Council refused to back George W. Bush, it should have legitimated the US air strikes long ago."

Russia menaced by new planned economy: Moscow's announcement that it would impose a limit on food prices is a new form of planned economy, the liberal-conservative daily Neue Zürcher Zeitung criticises: "Even the introduction of state-administered prices is now being discussed. In addition to the sanction spiral, the Kremlin threatens to set an intervention spiral in motion. Capping prices in dozens or even hundreds of product categories would create false incentives and distortions - not to mention the difficulties of implementing and monitoring prices. ... If the Kremlin caps the prices of staple food products, retailers may try to compensate for the rise in their acquisition costs by increasing the price of other goods. Or domestic producers could be given higher subsidies to take the sting out of the lower retail prices. Whatever happens, any distortion will make further intervention necessary. Yet the lessons to be learned from the planned economy experience were pretty clear."

Green electricity shakes up energy giants: Starting 2015, Munich's state-run utilities company Stadtwerke München and the Swedish energy company Vattenfall will build a wind farm costing 1.2 billion euros off Germany's North Sea coast. For the left-liberal daily Süddeutsche Zeitung this is further proof that the energy transition is fast approaching: "Never before has as much green energy like solar, wind and water power been consumed as in the first half of 2014. And never before has so little come from fossil fuel power stations. Green energy has even replaced brown coal as the most important German energy source. ... As a consequence, the conflict between old and new energy will only grow more acute in the months to come. Utilities provider RWE is demonstrating how. Angered by the German energy policy, the company is considering closing several power stations. ... Playing on people's fears is the strategy of a sector that still hasn't forgotten how to crank up the pressure on politicians when push comes to shove. ... The era of the big German power stations is coming to an end. A new large-scale subsidy system would be a bad idea."


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