Wednesday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - November 12, 2014
By Finfacts Team
Nov 12, 2014 - 11:09 AM

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Irish Independent

She is the working mother who captured the mood of a nation.

At her wits' end, hard-working mother-of-two Donna Hartnett sat down and penned a letter to the Irish Independent telling the Government enough was enough and she was putting her children first.

Her searingly honest letter touched a nerve with every working parent who nurses feelings of guilt as she spoke of rousing her sleeping children from their warm beds at 6.30am so they could be packed off to crèche while she and her husband rushed to get to work on time.

Ireland-founded packaging group Clondalkin has sold its specialty packaging division for $455m (€365m) to UK-based Essentra. It includes sale of a site in Cork.

Owned by US private equity giant Warburg Pincus, Clondalkin has a number of manufacturing plants across the UK, mainland Europe and the United States. Its headquarters are now based in Amsterdam.

Warburg Pincus has decided to break up Clondalkin, having hired Goldman Sachs and Moelis to handle the sales of its units.

Clondalkin has two facilities in Ireland – a site in Dublin used to make fine paper for office and commercial printing use; and a factory in Cork that is a leading supplier and manufacturer of packaging materials for the pharmaceutical and medical device sectors.

US President Obama's most senior economic official during the global financial crisis has claimed Ireland was "stupid" to guarantee the banks.

Former US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who stepped down last year, said the country couldn't afford the 2008 blanket guarantee, which lumped €64bn of bank losses on taxpayers.

"Ireland, most people view in retrospect, was stupid to guarantee all their banks. They couldn't afford it," the former US Treasury Secretary said.

"They were eight times the size of their economy. Now it's easy for us to say that."

The comments are from raw transcripts of interviews that Mr Geithner had with assistants preparing his recent book, which recalled his time in the top US financial job during the global economic crisis.

He also wondered whether Europe should have stepped in and guaranteed the banks as it could afford it.

Irish Times

The hole in Ireland’s largest pension schemes has more than doubled in cash terms this year, a study published this morning says.

The annual Pensions Accounting Briefing from advisers LCP Ireland states that the deficit in the 29 defined benefit, or final salary, schemes studied had surged from €4 billion at the end of last year to more than €8.5 billion at the end of August.

The rising cash deficit comes despite a 12 per cent rise in global stock markets over the same period.

LCP examined the pension schemes of the 16 largest Irish listed companies in terms of their stock market capitalisation along with 13 semi-state companies in the report.

It’s worth noting that mortgage lending this year will total about €3 billion. At its peak in 2006, total mortgage lending was €39.8 billion. Talk of another bubble is premature.

This got an airing at the Banking & Payments Federation Ireland’s (BPFI) national conference in Dublin on Tuesday.

Irish MEP Brian Hayes, who was a minister of State at the department of finance up until his election to the European parliament this year, described the new rules as “unfair” and called for cheaper long-term loans to be made available.

“I don’t agree with the 20 per cent deposit proposal,” he said, adding that the rules do not take account of a person’s ability to pay back the loan.

Sharon Donnery, the Central Bank’s director of credit institutions’ supervision, responded by saying a “prudent approach to new lending is essential to avoid repeating past mistakes”.

Global regulators imposed penalties totalling $3.4 billion on five major banks, including UBS, HSBC and Citigroup on Wednesday in a landmark settlement over allegations of price fixing in the foreign exchange market.

Royal Bank of Scotland and JP Morgan were also fined for attempting to manipulate foreign exchange benchmarks in a year-long probe that has put the largely unregulated $5 trillion-a-day market on a tighter leash, with dozens of dealers suspended or fired.

Switzerland’s UBS swallowed the biggest penalty, paying $661 million to Britain’s Financial Services Authority (FCA) and the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and ordered by the Swiss regulator Finma to hand over 134 million Swiss francs.

Irish Examiner

There were 942 AIB staff members on remuneration packages of over €100,000 out of a total workforce of 12,648 at the end of last year, AIB chief executive David Duffy will tell the Oireachtas Finance Committee tomorrow.

In a series of written responses to questions posed by members of the committee and seen by the Irish Examiner, Mr Duffy says the lowest mortgage product that AIB offers is a 3.5% one-year fixed term. The most expensive is the 4.49% standard variable rate, although this has been reduced by 0.25%.

The bank was in a position to introduce a 0.25% cut because of its improved underlying performance and its reduced cost of funding, he says. Moreover, rates are kept under constant review.


Euro Topics: Poland's neo-colonialism destroys trust: Poland's new foreign minister Grzegorz Schetyna said last week in an interview with the Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza that no solution to the Ukraine conflict could be found without Poland's participation, and that attempting to find one would be like ignoring Italy, France and Spain when discussing Libya, Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco. Political scientist Alvydas Medalinskas finds such comparisons dangerous in the conservative daily Lietuvos žinios: "The fact is that some influential Polish politicians see the lands that were once occupied by Poland [under the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth] with the eyes of a proprietor who has temporarily been stripped of his assets. Not only the other countries in the region but also Moscow has noticed this. The joint action of the Polish Solidarność and other independence movements in Central and Eastern Europe, as well as the mutual trust between our peoples helped us to free ourselves from Moscow's zone of influence. And today we are urgently in need of this trust."

Gideon Rachman sees Russia as more of a threat than IS: Barack Obama will meet China's head of state Xi Jinping after the Apec summit in Beijing on Wednesday to discuss enhanced cooperation between the two countries. He also announced on Saturday that he would double the number of troops in Iraq in the fight against the IS. But the US president should focus his attention on a different global player than the IS and China, chief columnist Gideon Rachman writes in the conservative daily Financial Times: "It will be up to historians to decide whether the Obama administration got its strategic priorities right, or whether it charged off in the wrong direction at a crucial moment. My own instinct is that Russia is now the most important challenge. The rise of China is hugely significant but, for the moment, it feels like a long-term process - without any immediate risk of conflict with the US. Failing states in the Middle East and the risk of terrorism are dangers that, sadly, now feel almost normal. But an angry, nuclear-armed Russia, intent on challenging US power, poses risks that we are only beginning to understand. Peace in Europe may depend on Washington striking exactly the right balance between deterrence and diplomacy."

Benefit tourism helps separatists: After the unofficial referendum in Catalonia the conservative daily Berlingske warns of further separatist movements in Europe: "Europe's open borders and freedom of movement have been a boon for most European countries. ... But there are also negative consequences that the EU must not ignore, including the risk of benefit tourism. ... If the EU wants to counter the growing nationalism, the increasing demands for new borders and the resistance to openness it must provide more than just soothing phrases. ... The national governments and the EU must take the concerns seriously. Europe has no interest in new walls and borders that prevent development. It is imperative that it realizes that precisely this could happen. And that continuing European integration is not something that can be taken for granted if the citizens don't support it."

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