Seen & Heard


Howlin calls for debt forgiveness

Brendan Howlin, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, said homeowners who can’t repay debt will probably be able to get some of that debt written off as the Government introduces new personal insolvency legislation. “It will come to a situation where people who are demonstrably, to a third party external view, not in the position to pay will be absolved of that debt,” Mr Howlin said in an interview with RTÉ yesterday. Debtors may be able to obtain relief on the debt “that isn’t sustainable”. He said that in some instances foreclosure on properties bought as investments may be the “best solution”. Banks have been recapitalisesd to deal with homeowners who can’t repay debt, he said.

Personal Insolvency Bill to be amended

The Personal Insolvency Bill which is finalising its passage through the Oireachtas will be amended to prevent debtors from hiding assets in their pensions before declaring bankruptcy or reaching a personal insolvency arrangement.

The Sunday Times reports that creditors will be able to apply to the courts to recover any pension contributions deemed to be excessive in the three years before debtors are granted insolvency protection or declared bankrupt. The value of personal assets and jewellery debtors will be allowed keep has increased from €1,200 to €2,000 for cars and from €400 to €750 for jewellery.

Ross ‘behind’ BofI subordinate debt issue

US investor and 9 per cent Bank of Ireland shareholder Wilbur Ross was “behind” the banks subordinated debt issue last week, the Sunday Business Post reports.

Mr Ross, who is on the board of the bank, said he advised management to sell the bonds which surprised the market because the bank imposed loss on holders of similar debts in 2011 as part of its restructuring.

The paper quoted Owen Callan of Danske Markets who said: “I thought it would be a few years before any Irish bank issued again, given the losses bondholders took.”

Irish Rail may sell Rosslare Europort

Loss-making Irish Rail may sell Rosslare Europort, according to the Sunday Business Post. Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar has asked Indecon consultants to carry out a strategic review of the port.

The report quoted the terms of reference of the report including the “divestment by Iarnród Éireann of its interests in the holding company to a private sector concern” .

The review will take three months and begin in January. The paper also reported that a sperate review of national ports policy and a revised ports policy statement will soon be published by the Department of Transport.