Inside the world of business
Another Spanish student of our banking crisis arrives
VISITS BY Spanish officials and bankers continued earlier this week with the arrival in Dublin of Antonio Carrascosa, the latest high-ranking official from Madrid trying to learn more about how Ireland dealt with toxic bank assets.
Carrascosa is director general of Frob, Spain’s bank rescue fund and their answer to our National Pensions Reserve Fund which was raided to recapitalise Irish banks.
Among those he met were John Moran, secretary general of the Department of Finance, and Ann Nolan, head of the department’s banking unit, as well as members of her team.
The Spaniard was interested in the actions that the Government had taken to deal with the banking crisis.
Undoubtedly high on their agenda were the setting up of the National Asset Management Agency and the pricing by the Government of the €74 billion of loans transferred from the five banks to the State agency.
It was announced earlier this week that Spain’s bad bank, known as Sareb, will buy property assets from the country’s banks at an average discount of 63 per cent. This compares with the average discount of 57 per cent Nama paid.
Frob is overseeing the setting up of Sareb, which is being established as a condition of the €100 billion funding to the country’s banks from the EU bailout funds.
Carrascosa follows senior executives from Spain’s second-largest bank, BBVA, and the head of the country’s worst lender, Bankia, in picking brains in Ireland about how Dublin dealt with toxic assets.
Frob was keen to stress in recent days that the value assigned to assets being transferred to Sareb should not be a “reference” to property held on the books of the rest of the banking industry.
Unfortunately that wasn’t the case in Ireland, as the value assigned by Nama to the loans ultimately ended up being at or close to the market value of the loans, given the additional discounts.
Spain may be more interested in what Ireland did wrong than right.
Ireland should wake up and smell the coffee on tax debate
IT DID not take long for the fuss over Starbucks Coffee Company’s UK tax avoidance scheme to cross the Irish Sea. People before Profit took the streets of Dublin yesterday, picketing the Starbucks outlet on Dame Street. (See page 5 for full report).
They raged against the the fact that Starbucks paid less than €40,000 in tax here between 2005 and 2011 while paying €5.7 million in royalty and licensing fees to its parent company in the same period. It is the same mechanism used by the company in the UK, with the royalty and licensing income routed through a Dutch subsidiary in a “tax-efficient” fashion.
In many ways the only real surprise is that Ireland does not feature prominently in the Starbucks rinky-dink. The Dutch-based tax structure used by Starbucks is a second cousin – if not an even closer relation – of the various Irish-based tax structures used by so many multinationals, including the infamous Dutch sandwich employed by Google which seems to have so enraged the French.