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Wednesday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - August 20, 2014
By Finfacts Team
Aug 20, 2014 - 5:40 AM

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Irish Independent

Tánaiste Joan Burton is finally tightening controls in her department in the wake of damning revelations surrounding the handing out of confidential data to private investigators.

The Social Protection Minister has tasked two of her most senior officials with putting a stop to the leaking of sensitive information about members of the public.

An alert has been sent to thousands of department staff warning them of "bogus calls" and providing information about the shady methods used by so-called tracing agents to illegally obtain data.

The department last night confirmed that a "high-level working group" will now look into all aspects of data protection following strong criticism of its internal controls.

Apple shares closed at their highest ever level ahead of the company's iPhone 6 launch next month.

Last night the shares closed in the US at $100.53 - Apple's highest closing level ever when the stock is adjusted for its June 7-for-1 share split.

Irish banks have the potential to show the most notable improvement through 2015 compared to those in Portugal, Italy and Spain, Moody's Investors Service has said.

This is because comparatively higher economic growth in Ireland should offer some boost to these banks' bottom lines and improve the performance of asset portfolios via rising borrower debt-service capability, Moody's said.

The ratings giant said Spanish banks should also perform better over this period as problem loan formation slows and credit costs eases.

In Italy, where economic growth is more sluggish, as well as in Portugal, banks' internal capital generation is likely to remain more subdued for a longer period of time, it added.

GLOBAL ingredients and nutrition firm Glanbia has reported a 10.7pc increase in revenues to €1.7bn for the first half on a constant currency basis.

Earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation hit €129.5m, a 10.3pc improvement on the same basis.

Glanbia also announced a €60m strategic investment programme in global ingredients aimed at "maximising the value of our whey pool and further strengthening our position as a leader in value-added dairy ingredients."

The firm's global performance nutrition was the key growth driver as revenue growth of 21.8pc and a 110 basis point margin expansion drove a strong increase in EBITA.

Irish Times

New car sales in the Netherlands will hit a 45-year low this year, the industry said yesterday, as the Dutch government was warned any worsening of unrest in Ukraine or the Middle East could end hopes of fragile economic growth in 2015.

The auto industry consultancy group Aumacon revised downwards its previous 2014 sales forecast from 415,000 to 318,000, considerably lower than the annual average of 478,000 vehicles sold over the past decade and the high of 612,000 driven out of forecourts in 1999.

The unexpectedly high price offered for the rented homes in four separate suburban developments underlines the heightened competition between investment funds for distressed assets being offloaded by the State property agency as well as the higher rents now widely available for apartments.

The recently floated Ires Reit is understood to have been the top bidder for the portfolio, narrowly ahead of the seasoned Californian investor Kennedy Wilson and a company linked to solicitor and property developer Noel Smyth.

Ires Reit, a subsidiary of a Toronto-based company, recently acquired 84 luxury apartments adjacent to the Marker Hotel in the Grand Canal Dock area for €50.1 million.

In keeping with the other Irish banks, Permanent TSB’s half-year results yesterday showed improving trends on a number of fronts.

Income was up, payroll costs were down, its net interest margin improved, a lower impairment charge (€149 million versus €430 million a year earlier) was recorded, and it reported a 14 per cent decline in the number of customers in mortgage arrears when compared with the end of 2013.

However, unlike AIB, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank, who were all able to report a clean return to profitability, Permanent is still operating in the red.

Irish Examiner

Poland has asked the European Commission to lodge a complaint to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) over a Russian ban on EU food products, the Polish Economy Ministry said yesterday.

The commission has so far been cautious about taking the embargo case to the WTO, with lawyers in Brussels advising that doing so could escalate the conflict with Russia over Ukraine.

Russia has banned the import of EU food products from Poland, whose total food exports to Russia were worth around $1.5bn (€1.1bn) last year.

The ban was imposed in response to Western economic sanctions against Russia over its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and a pro-Russian rebellion in eastern Ukraine that Western capitals accuse Moscow of fomenting.

Europe

Euro Topics: Burial mound in Amphipolis is Greece's chance: Archaeologists working near Amphipolis in northeastern Greece last week discovered a vast burial site dating back to 325 to 300 B.C. It is thought to be the tomb of the family of the Macedonean king Alexander the Great. What a chance for Greece, the Greek online daily To Vima rejoices: "This fabulous heritage in the midst of an equally fabulous natural environment constitutes our country's biggest treasure. But it's not enough just to sit back and rest on our laurels. ... We must protect this heritage, and above all present it in the best way possible. This is not just a moral and historical imperative, but also the path to a better future. ... The global interest in the discovery of the tomb in Amphipolis gives us a unique opportunity to think about how we can best exploit our cultural heritage."

Poles are world champion taxpayers: Poles spend an average of 286 hours a year filling out tax forms, according to a recent study. The conservative news portal Wprost calls for a sweeping tax reform: "The taxes here are absolutely absurd. The VAT on healthy mineral water or green tea is 23 percent. Yet instant soups, crisps and salty snacks come under the reduced rate of eight percent. The system is repressive. The [annual] tax allowance of 3,091 złoty [740 euros] hasn't changed in six years, apart from an 'astronomical' rise of two złoty in 2009. Even in Tanzania it's twice as high. ... But instead of tackling this pathological state of affairs, [Finance] Minister Szczurek only digs deeper into our pockets. Now he even wants to introduce a tax on fibre optics."

Send exports to China instead: While Russia is dispensing with European meat imports in reaction to Europe's trade sanctions, China could become an important new market for Spanish meat, the left-liberal Spanish business daily Cinco Días observes: "Between 2008 and 2012 Spanish meat exports to China have increased five-fold. The investments of the Shuanghui/WH Fosun groups in Campofrio and Osborne, respectively, confirm China's strategic interest in this sector. The process of approving Spanish food products for China was slow but doesn't seem to be as arbitrary as that of Rosselkhoznadzor [the Russian Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance]. And since the setting up of Chinese certifying agencies in Spain the process has become much easier. Without doubt the future of Spanish meat may be decided in Asia."


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