BELGIAN Bank KBC may sell its Irish unit which it hopes will
become profitable by 2016.
The bank is keeping its options open for the unit including a sale - it had
€15.1bn of loans and mortgages outstanding at the end of the first quarter of
It is considering "whether to organically grow a profitable bank, build a
captive bank-insurance group or sell a profitable bank" it said today.
KBC Bank also said it intends to accelerate its repayments and to make final one
at the end of 2017 at the latest, instead of at the end of 2020 as agreed with
The group still owes €2bn, excluding penalties, of the €7bn state aid that it
received at the height of the credit crisis.
THE world's second-largest maker of medical devices is moving its
headquarters to Ireland for tax purposes.
Medtronic will come here after agreeing to buy Dublin-based Covidien for $42.9bn
(€31bn) in cash and stock but the move will make little practical difference.
Medtronic's executive team will not have to move to Ireland to consummate the
deal. While Covidien is currently based in Dublin for tax purposes, the company
is run from its offices in Mansfield, Massachusetts.
The gives the Minneapolis-based Medtronic access to Covidien's portfolio of
hospital supplies, from surgical staplers to ventilators, and adds size and
scope that may allow it to better compete with Johnson & Johnson, the largest
medical device company. At the same time, use of Covidien's Irish address could
free almost $14bn in cash Medtronic now holds overseas as a way to avoid being
taxed on it under US laws.
AT THE height of the EU's rolling series of banking and currency
crises, the diminutive figure of Jean-Claude Juncker was often visible outside
buildings in Brussels and Luxembourg puffing furtively on a cigarette.
The EU's no-smoking meeting rooms were not the only issue. In January of this
year the long-time Luxembourg premier was forced to publicly deny he had a drink
problem after allegations by a Dutch politician that he drank and smoked too
The 59-year-old career politician comes from the EU's smallest state which is
one-third the size of Co Cork and has a similar population to that county of
about half-a-million people. And by the end of this month Jean-Claude Juncker is
very likely to be the new EU Commission President – a job which will have a
major impact on the lives of 500 million Europeans stretching from the Arctic
Circle to Crete.
Juncker's candidacy for Brussels' biggest job was sealed in Dublin in early
March of this year when colleagues from the European People's Party (EPP), or
Christian Democrat grouping, formally endorsed him. His credentials were further
strengthened when the EPP, to which Fine Gael is aligned, became the biggest
bloc in the European Parliament with 221 out of the 751 seats.
Warren Buffett deal with VHI will save taxpayers €200m:
Billionaire's lifeline will also reduce pressure for further premium hikes.
The VHI's new four-year contract with a company headed by Mr Buffett is also set
to save millions of euro for taxpayers.
His Berkshire Hathaway holding company has signed an agreement to take over some
of the risks of VHI, in what is known as a re-insurance deal.
Head of the VHI John O'Dwyer said the deal is set to save taxpayers from having
to pump up to €200m into the company and will help keep down premium hikes for
the insurer's one million-plus customers.
"This is a good deal for VHI customers and it is a good deal for the Exchequer,"
Mr O'Dwyer said.
The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin
insisted this morning the Government would make decisions that would encourage
He was reacting to the latest assessment from the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council
(IFAC) which said the Government would be “unwise” to contemplate a budget
adjustment of less than €2 billion given the uncertainties still surrounding
Ireland’s economic recovery and that the Government had no scope for tax cuts.
Speaking on his way into Cabinet this morning, Mr Howlin said the Government had
some “leeway” with regard to tax cuts but caution still needed to prevail.
Argentinian president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner ruled out
complying with a US court order to pay holders of defaulted bonds in full,
leaving the country two weeks to come up with a way to avoid a second debt
crisis in 13 years.
Speaking in a nationwide address hours after the US supreme court declined to
hear Argentina’s appeal of the case, she used the term “extortion” to describe
the ruling that requires the nation to pay defaulted bondholders when it makes
payments on its restructured debt.
The country’s next interest payment is due June 30th, limiting the time for Ms
Fernandez to reach an accord with holdout creditors including hedge-fund manager
Paul Singer’s Elliott Management Corporation.
Ms Fernandez said complying with the ruling was impossible and would
expose Argentina to as much as $15 billion in claims from creditors who rejected
restructuring offers following the country’s $95 billion default in 2011.
As part of its new cuddly, customer-friendly image, Ryanair is to
offer a range of discounts for parents travelling with children.
The airline’s new Family Extra service includes a free 5kg infant bag allowance,
reduced infant fees, a 50 per cent reduction on allocated seating charges for
children and discounted priority boarding.
The move follows the introduction of fully allocated seating in February, which
had been a major source of irritation for families travelling with the airline,
as they could not guarantee they would be seated together.
US medical device maker Medtronic Inc has said it agreed to buy
Dublin-based Covidien Plc for $42.9bn (€31.6bn) and shift its executive
headquarters to Ireland in the latest move by US firms to harvest lower
corporate tax rates abroad.
While the cash and stock deal will allow Medtronic to reduce its overall global
tax burden, the Minneapolis-based company said it was driven by a complementary
strategy with Covidien on medical technology, rather than tax considerations.
“The real purpose of this, in the end, is strategic, both in the intermediate
term and the long term,” Medtronic chief executive Omar Ishrak said after the
deal was announced. “It is good for the US in that we will make more investment
in US technologies, which previously we could not.”
Euro Topics: Russia stopped deliveries of gas
to Ukraine on Monday. After weeks of negotiations the two countries were still
unable to agree on prices and Ukraine's repayment of its debts. Commentators
voice concern about Europe's energy security and call on the EU to make itself
independent of Russian gas.
Gas war is pure politics: For both Moscow and Brussels the gas dispute is not
just about economic issues but above all about securing power, the liberal Dutch
daily NRC comments: "Gas is the Kremlin's most important weapon in its
efforts to keep Ukraine within its sphere of influence without losing the
European market. This market is crucial for Moscow as it makes up a good 14
percent of Russia's export revenues. With economic growth stagnating in his own
country, President Putin cannot afford to lose the European market. Nevertheless
Russia's threat to turn off the gas tap is very realistic. ... This whole circus
over gas is above all about politics. Moscow wants to show its strength. Kiev
wants to resist this. And Brussels wants to prove the cogency of the European
experiment: a peaceful, free market with shared democratic values."
EU hit by Moscow's secret weapon: Russia has warned the EU about problems
with its gas deliveries should Ukraine tap into supplies destined for transit
through the country. The EU should put its foot down and up the pressure on
Russia, the liberal Italian business daily Il Sole 24 Ore urges: "For the
Kremlin, the EU (together with the US) is mainly responsible for the hostile
course Kiev has adopted towards Moscow. At the same time Putin's strategists
regard Europe as a weak link in the chain of Ukraine's supporters in the West
precisely because Europe is susceptible to blackmail over gas supplies. It's
easy to predict that the energy weapon now being used against Kiev for allegedly
purely economic reasons will also turn against Europe, in this case for
political reasons. ... This shows that it is a dangerous illusion to believe you
can stay out of political crises that threaten to turn into energy crises.
Europe simply can't afford to stand back and watch events beyond its borders
from the sidelines."
France's left must die: French Prime Minister Manuel Valls warned the
Socialists at a party meeting on Saturday that the left could die in view of the
disputes over the government's reform programme. The liberal online magazine
Contrepoints hopes for just that: "It must die, as it can no longer see who are
the rich and who are the poor. It must die, because for it the poor are those
classes attached to the drip of welfare services, who are surrounded by state
financed and highly profitable 'non-profit organisations', whereas the real poor
are those who fall through the meshes of the social security net. ... It must
die because it still pretends to help the working class. But this class has
slowly disappeared, replaced by a middle class comprised of subordinate salaried
employees who feel forgotten by the traditional parties. And who can blame them,
as the left has targeted the newcomers with a made-to-measure discourse. The
right, meanwhile, only makes a fool of itself with its equally misleading vision
Wulff sullies German presidency again: Last week former German president
Christian Wulff presented a book about his resignation in February 2012 amidst a
bribe scandal. In the book Wulff, who has been acquitted in the meantime,
also criticises the role of the media before and after the investigations. The
conservative Sunday paper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung concludes that
the book was not a good idea: "Wulff was forced to leave Bellevue [the German
president's official residence] after an undignified round of mudslinging. Since
then he has remained silent in public and defended himself effectively in court.
This earned him admiration, an acquittal and a little respect once more. If only
he had stuck to this course! Because what happened behind the walls of Schloss
Bellevue would have been better kept locked away in Wulff's heart. Christian
Wulff was unfit to be Germany's president. When he claims he would 'still be the
right man for the job today' he offends his successor. ... He sullies the office
of president. Yet again."