See Search Box
lower down this column for searches of Finfacts news pages. Where there may be
the odd special character missing from an older page, it's a problem that
developed when Interactive Tools upgraded to a new content management system.
Finfacts is Ireland's leading business information site and
you are in its business news section.
Independent reports that many fashion labels which supplied Clerys are unlikely
to get any of the money they were owed before the department store went into
receivership last week.
The Irish Independent understands that some suppliers were so concerned about
Clerys' financial position that they had been insisting on cash-on-delivery
Others continued to supply the business under normal terms. These suppliers are
highly unlikely to be repaid anything as they are deemed to be unsecured
creditors. The failure to repay so many companies would be a hammer blow to the
Irish fashion industry, which is already suffering from the retail slump and
closures of smaller shops in many towns and cities.
It's likely that it will take a year before the receivership process is
While many local companies are set to get nothing, the Irish Independent
understands that as many as 50 concessionaires at the O'Connell Street store in
Dublin had their accounts effectively settled by Clery & Co (1941) just days
before the receivers were called in by directors.
Those suppliers and concessions -- which include well-known top brands such as
Mango and Benetton -- will be vital to the new US owners, investment firm Gordon
Brothers, in driving the department store's future fortunes.
Gordon Brothers acquired the assets and business of Clery & Co (1941) last week
in a deal that saw Bank of Ireland paid about €14m of the €26m in debt that had
been accumulated by the retailer over recent years.
Gordon Brothers is using a firm called OCS Operations to hold the Clerys assets
it has acquired.
While many suppliers can't expect to receive money they were owed by Clery & Co
(1941), it's understood that Gordon Brothers is working with suppliers to
negotiate future agreements.
Gordon Brothers has been keen to emphasise that it believes Clerys has a strong
future and that it understands the position the store holds in Irish retail
Speaking to the Irish Independent last week, Gordon Brothers Europe chief
executive Frank Morton said that the firm "understands the history of Clerys and
"But we also understand that it's been a challenging environment and we hope to
add value to Clerys so we can deliver a more positive result than what it has
been able to achieve," he said.
Clerys had been racking up losses as it suffered from the downturn.
In the year to the end of January 2010, Clerys made a €2m loss.
That compared with a €1.87m loss a year earlier. Excluding concession sales,
Clerys' own net sales fell 19pc to €17.4m.
Last week, the landmark Guineys store on Dublin's Talbot Street was closed,
while three Clerys furnishings outlets have also been shut.
The Irish Independent also reports that Mitt Romney,
the Republican presidential candidate challenging Barack Obama for the White
House, has invested in a Dublin-based company that buys junk bonds, his personal
tax returns show.
Mr Romney, one of the wealthiest people ever to run for the presidency, has
invested in a company called Alpstar CLO 2. It has an address at Harbourmaster
Place in the IFSC and had assets last year worth €463m.
Alpstar CLO 2, which has connections with a Swiss company of the same name, buys
distressed bonds in companies, mainly in the healthcare, food, leisure,
telecommunications and construction industry.
Although the company is based in Dublin, it had only 0.4pc of its capital
invested in Ireland in 2011 (down from 1pc in 2010). About half of the
investments are in the UK, the Netherlands and Germany.
Alpstar is typical of hundreds of funds based in the IFSC which cater to the
investment needs of wealthy individuals but fly below the radar.
The company's lawyers are Arthur Cox and the auditors are Deloitte and Touche.
The company has two directors, Raheny-based Eimir McGrath and David McGuinness.
Both hold just one share in the company.
Ms McGrath (42) is or was a director of 271 other companies -- all with names
like Signum Finance. Her fellow director, Mr McGuinness (42), is a director of
272 other companies based in Dublin, Jersey and elsewhere.
The shelf company's main shareholder is Deutsche International Corporate
Mr Romney made the investment through Goldman Sachs, according to his tax
returns. He does not appear to have made any profit from his investment last
The candidate has come under fire politically for his wealth and his investments
in the Cayman Islands, Switzerland and Ireland.
In an interview on Sunday, Mr Romney said he thought it was "fair" that he paid
a lower tax rate on his investment income of $20m (€15m) last year than someone
who made $50,000 annually.
He was asked about the 14pc tax rate that he paid on the $20m he made on his
investments in 2011.
"It is a low rate," he said. "And one of the reasons why the capital gains tax
rate is lower is because capital has already been taxed once at the corporate
level, as high as 35pc."
Mr Romney released his 2011 return last Friday, which showed that he paid an
effective tax rate of 14.1pc.
He pays a lower tax rate because his earnings come from investment income.
Earnings from wages can be taxed at a rate of up to 35pc in the US.
Mr Romney has steadfastly refused to release more than two years of his tax
returns, breaking what has been a long-standing presidential campaign tradition.
The Irish Times reports that
the Government's campaign for debt relief was dealt a fresh blow yesterday as
Germany, Finland and the Netherlands said national bodies should remain liable
for most bank losses. The three states are insisting that governments remain on
the hook for loss-making legacy assets even after any bank rescues by the ESM
This demand, laid down by the countries’ finance
ministers, is in apparent defiance of the decision by EU leaders in June to
break the link between sovereign and bank debt.
After talks near Helsinki, the ministers said the
ESM should assume only a limited burden if it makes direct bank
The intervention comes as the Government faces
persistent difficulty in its pursuit of a deal in Europe to ease the burden of
the banking debt.
There is increasing concern in Dublin about
German-led backsliding on the promise of a radical new deal to settle the
banking crisis in Ireland and Spain. One of the Government’s core objectives is
for the ESM to take direct equity stakes in the surviving banks: AIB, Bank of
Ireland and Permanent TSB.
“It leaves the situation extremely uncertain from
an Irish point of view,” said John Fitzgerald of the Economic and Social
Research Institute. “Depending on how it is interpreted, it may or may not allow
the Irish government to sell its interests in the surviving Irish banks to the
EU leaders agreed in principle three months ago
to allow direct bank recapitalisations by the ESM, the basic idea being for the
European fund to replace governments as the final backstop on banking losses.
However, German minister Wolfgang Schäuble,
Finland’s Jutta Urpilainen and Dutch minister Jan Kees de Jager said they want
to curtail the ESM’s exposure to bad debts. “The ESM can take direct
responsibility of problems that occur under the new supervision, but legacy
assets should be under the responsibility of national authorities,” they said.
This would appear to limit the benefit of any
capital infusions from the ESM because a government would remain liable for
losses that may yet materialise from existing loans.
Germany is the dominant power in the euro zone
and it frequently draws support from Finland and the Netherlands.
They share an interest in limiting the burden on
the ESM as they do not want their financial support for the fund to compromise
their triple-A credit ratings.
With Spain under pressure to accept increased
bailout aid, the joint statement was seen as a hard-line gambit in looming ESM
But anger on the streets of Madrid last night
will serve as a counter-warning. Protesters clashed with police as the
government planned more austerity measures for the 2013 budget to be announced
tomorrow. In June, EU leaders resolved that direct bank aid from the ESM cannot
go ahead until the European Central Bank takes over bank supervision in the euro
The debate since then has been marred by dispute
and division over the scope of the ECB’s powers, with Germany resisting a speedy
Euro zone officials said the statement pointed to
difficult talks in Luxembourg when the 17 euro zone finance ministers gather
there for talks on Monday week. They also said the statement appeared
deliberately ambiguous in parts.
While the three ministers said any ESM
recapitalisation “should always occur using estimated real economic values”,
officials said it was not at all clear what that meant.
The Department of Finance said last night that it
welcomed the ideas put forward by Mr Schäuble and his allies. “These ideas will
feed into our discussions . . . over the coming months,” it said.
While talks continue with the ECB on an
arrangement to cut the cost of repaying the debts of Anglo Irish Bank, a
well-placed source said no deal was imminent.
The Irish Times also reports
that up to 30,000 jobs could be lost through government cuts in the Budget, an
economic think-tank has warned.
Researchers claim plans to take €3.5 billion from
the economy in December by cutting key services and income protection for low
earners could have dire consequences.
The Nevin Economic Research Institute (Neri) said
the state could instead shore up €1 billion by increasing taxes on high earners
and wealth groups.
Think-tank director Tom Healy said it was
possible to adopt an alternative budgetary strategy that would still meet the
terms and targets set by Ireland’s debt masters, the troika of the European
Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank.
“The choice between taxes and spending is ours to
make,” said Dr Healy, ahead of the publication of Neri’s latest quarterly
“Most people have already taken enough in cuts to
public services and wages along with increased charges. What we need instead is
a strategy that invests in growth and begins to address the huge shortfall in
taxes paid at the very top end of the income distribution.”
In its latest report, Neri said the Government’s
austerity strategy was failing and that introducing a stimulus instead of making
cuts could create more than 20,000 jobs.
It said existing austerity measures could risk
The think-tank, which was set up in March and is
funded by trade unions, suggested maintaining 2012 spending levels, reversing
capital spending cuts and introducing a wealth tax.
It recommended the Government scales down its
adjustment plans from €3.5 billion to €2.7 billion - €2.3 billion of which would
come from its proposals for higher taxes on the wealthy.
It added that investing in infrastructure and job
creation would be key to getting the country back on its feet.
“Such a strategy is not only equitable but also
makes economic sense,” Dr Healy said.
“In our Quarterly Economic Observer, we show how
our proposals are likely to result in 21,000 more jobs than under the
Government’s proposed consolidation - while still meeting the Troika’s deficit
The Government will announce the 2013 Budget in
the first week of December.
The Irish Examiner reports
that there is much greater potential for domestic insurance and pension funds to
invest in the Irish economy in an effort to help the overall recovery,
Department of Finance secretary general John Moran told the Irish Life pensions
Only 33% of domestic policyholder funds were
invested in Irish assets at the end of 2010. The percentage of pension scheme
funds invested in Irish assets was much lower, said Mr Moran.
"If there is an increase in the level of domestic funds investing in Irish
Government bonds, then it will make a more compelling case why international
investors should take a punt on government debt, he said. "Moreover, it seems to
me to be in everybody’s interests that we create investment so that the economy
can grow and allow for a better standard of living for society as a whole."
He said the Department of Finance was actively looking at ways that investment
in infrastructure projects could be structured that would be attractive to
pension funds. Mr Moran highlighted that public private partnerships (PPPs)
offer significant potential to match long-term pension assets and provide
diversification of funds.
Restrictions on tax reliefs and other tax changes, as well as concern about
future changes has probably had an impact on the public’s confidence in pension
investment, said Mr Moran. He acknowledged that the pensions sector had made a
sizeable contribution to shoring up the Government’s finances.
There will be a further change to the tax incentive regime for pensions in the
next budget. Mr Moran welcomed input from the industry as to how this could be
The NTMA has recently launched annuity bonds with the aim of attracting Irish
pension funds. Annuity bonds are suitable for pension funds because they combine
a combination of principle and interest payments every year.
Foreign news reviews and more
comprehensive coverage of Irish news is available in our Daily News Digest in
Global category on Finfacts Premium.
out our new subscription service, Finfacts Premium
, at a low annual charge of €25 - - if
you are a regular user of Finfacts, 50 euro cent a week is hardly a huge ask to
support the service.
It's a simple fact that in the prevailing economic climate, the provision of
high quality content cannot be sustained through advertising alone.
Business executives who put a premium on time and value high quality
information, should use our service.