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News : International Last Updated: Jun 12, 2014 - 3:15 PM


Thursday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - June 12, 2014
By Finfacts Team
Jun 12, 2014 - 10:39 AM

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Irish Independent

THE Army has signed a deal with defence company Saab for a €4.4m upgrade to the country's anti-aircraft missile system.

The surface-to-air missiles are deployed during high-profile State visits – including historic visits by Britain's Queen Elizabeth and US President Barack Obama in 2011 – but have never been fired in the country.

The Defence Forces first acquired the RBS 70s in the 1980s and they have been upgraded several times.

Defence and security company Saab – which manufactured the missiles – has signed a contract to upgrade Ireland's arsenal of RBS 70s.

The deal includes deliveries of improved firing units, new simulators, night-vision equipment and associated weapons support.

Fresh from his successful Bank of Ireland sale, the US billionaire's firm has struck a joint venture agreement with Irish investment house Cardinal Capital that aims to raise €400m for property investments.

The new fund will be open to new investors as well as those who backed Wilbur Ross, pictured, previously on deals including his successful Bank of Ireland play. The fund-raising is expected to be finalised by September.

Once raised, the new fund will make so-called "mezzanine finance" investments in commercial and residential property schemes here.

Mezzanine finance is a relatively risky form of investment that bridges the gap between loans and pure equity – a mezzanine provider typical charges a higher interest rate than banks but unlike traditional lenders is well back in the queue to be repaid if a deal fails.

THE European Commission confirmed that it is beginning a formal investigation into the State's tax arrangements with Apple.

The Department of Finance countered that it is confident Ireland has not broken EU state aid rules. A spokesman said the State's position would be vigorously defended after EU competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia announced the much-expected in-depth investigation yesterday.

Apple again said yesterday that it had received no special consideration from Irish officials and said it was subject to the same tax laws as scores of other companies in Ireland.

Formal probes were also opened into tax arrangements between Starbucks and the Netherlands, and Fiat Finance and Trade and Luxembourg.

The inquiry involving Ireland relates to the Irish branches of two Apple entities – Apple Sales International and Apple Operations Europe – and covers the period between 2004 and 2014.

The inquiry will not focus on Ireland's 12.5pc corporation tax rate, but on so-called tax rulings, which involve "comfort letters" being issued by the tax authorities of a country to a specific company clarifying how its corporate tax will be calculated or on the use of specific tax provisions.

Irish Times

Some senior executives in voluntary hospitals and health agencies, who are currently receiving highly controversial top-up allowances, may be able to keep the payments if they can show they have a contractual entitlement to them.

In April, the HSE rejected around 100 applications from voluntary hospitals and health agencies to continue making top-up payments to senior staff in addition to official salaries. This followed a wide-ranging investigation into breaches of Government pay policy in the voluntary health sector.

The HSE directed that payment of such top-ups should cease by the beginning of July.

The Department of Finance has assembled a high-powered international legal team to fight the State’s corner following the European Commission’s decision to open a formal investigation into the corporate tax affairs in Ireland of the iPhone maker Apple. The Department has hired a senior UK barrister or QC (Queen’s Counsel), whom a source said is one of the “foremost authorities” on the tax practices of multinationals, to advise the Government, as well as an Irish-based senior counsel and a junior counsel. The Department declined to confirm the name of the UK expert it has hired.

The team has been built as the Government has pledged to “vigorously defend” its corporate tax regime following the European Commission’s decision to open the formal investigation.

Luxembourg and the Netherlands will also be investigated for tax rulings offered to Fiat and Starbucks in a bid by Brussels to clamp down on aggressive tax planning.

Intel has lost its challenge against a record €1.06 billion fine handed down by European Union antitrust regulators five years ago for blocking rival Advanced Micro Devices (AMD).

The European Commission in its 2009 decision said Intel tried to thwart AMD by giving rebates to PC makers Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Japan’s NEC and Lenovo for buying most of their computer chips from Intel.

The EU competition authority said Intel also paid German retail chain Media-Saturn to stock only computers with its chips.

Irish entrepreneur Oisin Hanrahan, founder of the US-based Handybook, which provides home-improvement services, has secured €22 million in development funding.

The fundraising was led by former AOL chairman Steve Case’s Revolution Growth fund and has also attracted further capital from previous investors General Catalyst Partners and Highland Capital Partners.

Mr Hanrahan (30), a native of Dublin and a finalist in the EY Entrepreneur of the Year competition, also created the annual global Undergraduate Awards.
Now based in New York, the former Trinity College student founded Handybook with Umang Dua while the two were roommates at Harvard Business School.

Irish Examiner

The Government should plan for a €2bn budget in October, although the planned water charges and carryover savings from the Haddington Road Agreement should be enough to reduce the fiscal deficit below 3% next year, according to the ESRI’s John FitzGerald.

Under the terms of the bailout programme agreed with the troika, the Government is scheduled to introduce one last austerity budget in order to meet the 3% deficit target next year.

According to the latest Country Specific Recommendations released by the European Commission last week, it urged the Government to proceed with this €2bn figure.

The two contenders for the Labour leadership contest, Joan Burton and Alex White, have both pledged to ease up on austerity.

Europe

Euro Topics: Just who will become the new EU Commission president remains unclear even after the mini-summit in Sweden. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was apparently unable to convince her conservative party colleagues of the merits of Jean-Claude Juncker. Her task as mediator was by no means easy, commentators write, and complain that now the decision will be taken by a small elite.

Angela Merkel between a rock and a hard place: The liberal-conservative Swiss Neue Zürcher Zeitung explains why the row over Juncker's candidacy for Commission president presents a challenge for Angela Merkel in particular: "It would be very awkward for Merkel to take sides against Juncker, whom both the CDU and CSU [her party and its sister party] supported in the election campaign. On the other hand a Europe of the Council would be more to her liking than a Europe of the Parliament. In the circle of national governments a strong country like Germany has better chances of pushing through its interests than in the still somewhat unpredictable European Parliament. In the euro crisis it was the chancellor who insisted that the important decisions be taken in the Council. Moreover she can't be keen on the idea of a weakened Cameron - after all, it's he who must see to it that the UK remains in the EU. A Union without Britain would be a disastrous scenario for Germany because Berlin has more in common with London as regards economic and financial issues than it does with Paris and countries of the south."

Brexit would destroy balance in EU: Britain leaving the EU - as Prime Minister David Cameron has threatened in the wrangling over who becomes Commission president - is a horror scenario, columnist Ambrose Evans-Pritchard argues in the conservative Daily Telegraph: "British withdrawal would not only puncture the EU Project's aura of historic inevitability but would also change the internal chemistry of the Union. Germany would be placed in a position of hegemony that it does not want, and that would subvert EU cohesion. It would make France's subordination even harder to endure, and embolden the Souverainiste camp to look for other solutions. The pro-market states of northern and eastern Europe that tuck in behind Britain would lose their footing. The whole enterprise would become even more unstable at a time when it has already lost its charisma as a motivating idea for the European peoples."

Extremists in Iraq also a threat for Turkey: The extremist militia "Islamic state of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) took over the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on Tuesday. This development risks destabilising the entire region including Turkey, the liberal Turkish daily Radikal believes: "ISIL belongs to the new generation of radical Islamic groups and has employed the most brutal terrorist methods in the civil war in Syria without batting an eye. ... After Mosul they are now trying to gain power in Aleppo in Syria, which is also near the Turkish border. This attack increases the danger of division and civil war in Iraq. But the problems lie even deeper. ... With the civil war in Syria, the Kurdish PKK has been able to establish a liberated zone not only in northern Iraq but also in the north of Syria. That has given it even more power in the so-called 'Kurdish peace process' initiated by Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan. ... The fact that Mosul has now fallen to an Islamic terrorist organisation which everyone considers an enemy will no doubt upset the power balance in the entire region."

Switzerland a model of innovation for France: In referendums like the recent one on the minimum wage the Swiss have rejected employee-friendly proposals similar to French labour policies. In view of the almost full employment in Switzerland, the economist Nicolas Bouzou recommends that the French take inspiration from the Swiss economic model: "The malady ailing France is more profound and has to do with the cultural view the French take of the economy. In this sense Switzerland is a more fitting source of inspiration than Germany. Because the incipient global growth cycle is an unprecedented cycle of innovation in nanotechnology, robotics, genetics, molecular biology, artificial intelligence. … Growth by innovation is not only transforming economic 'infrastructures' but also all the 'superstructures' of labour, law, politics, art. … Countries that focus on their past and their traditions and are afraid of the future are condemned to stagnation."


© Copyright 2011 by Finfacts.com

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