The Year That Was

Fri, Dec 31, 2010, 00:00

Compiled by JOANNE HUNT

JANUARY

IT IS A bad start to 2010 for boom- time restaurateurs Christian and Simon Stokes. In the space of a week, their private members club Residence enters receivership and the company behind their trendy Bang Café is liquidated.

Property developers remain out of favour with a Commercial Court judgment for €62.5 million registered against Bernard McNamara.

A further judgment of €98.14 million is made against a company set up by Mr McNamara for the purchase of the Irish Glass Bottle site. Purchased for more than €411m in 2006, the site is now valued at just €50 million.

Posturing between Aer Lingus and the Dublin Airport Authority over whether the airline will move into Terminal 2 continues.

Figures show that 6,699 full-time employees lost their jobs during the month – the equivalent of 319 job losses each working day.

FEBRUARY

The Irish Timeslearns the names of the borrowers being moved in the first wave of loan transfers from Anglo Irish Bank to the National Assets Management Agency. They include Liam Carroll, Bernard McNamara, Seán Mulryan, Derek Quinlan, Paddy McKillen, Johnny Ronan, Richard Barrett, Michael O’Flynn, Joe O’Reilly, Gerry Gannon and Gerry Barrett.

On the employment front, almost 1,000 jobs are lost in two days.

Medical device manufacturer Boston Scientific tells staff in Galway it will reduce the workforce by 175.

Meanwhile Bank of Scotland (Ireland) announces it is to close its Halifax retail banking business (right) with the loss of 750 jobs. After 2009’s high-profile ad campaign featuring actor Colm Meaney, Halifax customers are told the bank’s 44 branches will close in June.

In a further blow to banking jobs, Postbank announces it will close at the end of 2010.

MARCH

State-owned Anglo Irish Bank takes legal action against the bank’s former chairman Seán FitzPatrick to recover unpaid loans of €70 million.

This is the second lawsuit taken by Anglo against a former senior executive with the bank also pursuing former chief executive David Drumm for unpaid loans of €8.3 million, including €7.7 million provided to buy shares in the bank.

Later in the month FitzPatrick is questioned by gardaí under section 10 of the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act 2001.

It is the first high-profile arrest of a major banking figure under the Act.

Cabin Crew at Aer Lingus vote to accept the terms of a controversial €97 million cost-saving plan that will result in about 670 redundancies, pay cuts and changes in work practices.

Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan (far right) says that State-owned Anglo Irish Bank may require an additional €10 billion of taxpayers’ money. This is on top of the €8.3 billion already committed as part of a €21.8 billion bank recapitalisation package announced in the Dáil.

The additional €10 billion – to meet future losses on loans going into Nama – is to bring the total cost of bailing out Anglo to 22.3 billion.

The Financial Regulator launches an investigation into Quinn Insurance after successfully applying to put the firm into provisional administration.

The regulator expresses “very serious” concerns about the company’s ability to meet its liabilities to its 1.3 million policyholders.

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary has his wings clipped in the High Court when Mr Justice Peter Kelly said the airline boss had lied in a letter sent to Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey in February.

APRIL

Businessman Seán Quinn (right) concedes defeat in his battle to stop the Financial Regulator putting Quinn Insurance into administration.

Up to 900 Quinn Insurance staff are to be made redundant over the next 12 months as part of a restructuring of the business by administrators.

Thousands of intending passengers stranded in Dublin airport have time to learn how to spell Eyjafjallajökull, the name of the Icelandic volcano (below) whose ash cloud has led to flight cancellations across Europe.

Anglo Irish Bank begins transferring up to €10 billion in loans to the National Assets Management Agency (Nama) as part of the first tranche of its borrowings moving to the agency.

Co-op members narrowly defeat the proposed sale of Glanbia’s Irish dairy division to its 54 per cent shareholder, the Glanbia Co-op.

Pharmaceutical firm Pfizer announces that it is to cut 785 jobs at its Irish operations.

JUNE

Ireland’s banking crisis was “home made” and our system of regulation was not sufficiently “hands on or pre-emptive”, a preliminary report produced by Klaus Regling and Max Watson finds.

The report is heavily critical of the structure of regulation in this country and its lack of intervention with and supervision of the banks as the economy overheated.

Zurich Insurance promises to create 120 jobs by the end of the year at the company’s European centre in Dublin.

JULY

Jim Mansfield’s high-profile Citywest Hotel, conference centre and golf complex in Saggart, Co Dublin, is placed in receivership.

The Citywest site had been the subject of much controversy in recent years with Mr Mansfield frequently locking horns with planning authorities over his expansion plans for the site.

Seán Fitzpatrick is declared bankrupt by the High Court after Anglo Irish Bank, his largest creditor, blocked a settlement under which he would have repaid part of his debts over time.

Lawyers for Mr FitzPatrick, who owes the bank €110 million, said that he was “bowing to the inevitable” by asking the court to declare him a bankrupt.

Bank of Ireland and AIB pass an EU-wide stress test to assess the euro zone’s ability to withstand a double-dip recession and a sovereign debt shock.

However, with just seven of the 91 European banks tested failing the financial health check, fears are sparked that the much-anticipated test was too soft.

AUGUST

The total State aid that will be provided to Anglo Irish Bank is set to top €24 billion as a result of deeper discounts being applied to loans that it is transferring to the National Asset Management Agency.

The Government had estimated in March that it would provide just €22.9 billion in State aid to Anglo.

Up to 90 employees from the capital markets division of Allied Irish Banks (AIB) take legal actions against the bank over the non-payment of bonuses relating to their performance for 2008.

Their bonuses, thought to amount up to €10 million, were withheld under the Government’s September 2008 bank guarantee.

A majority of shareholders in Newmarket Co-operative Creameries agree to accept Kerry Group’s offer of €421 a share to buy out their business. The deal values the business at €26.6 million and co-op members are expected to net between €38,000 and €39,000 in the deal.

The government seeks to calm fears about the cost of bailing out State-owned Anglo Irish Bank by announcing a final estimate of about €28 billion to €29 billion, rising above €30 billion under a worst case or “stress” scenario.

OCTOBER

Former Anglo Irish Bank chief executive David Drumm files for bankruptcy in the US after the State-owned bank rejected his proposal to settle its legal action over loans of €8.5 million.

Lawyers for Mr Drumm said he had “bent over backwards” to reach a settlement, however counsel for Anglo said that it was “a bit rich” for Mr Drumm to seek to take the “high moral ground”.

Sales at Tesco Ireland rise by 8 per cent to €1.34 billion in the first six months of the year and the British retailer says it is planning to open 11 new stores in Ireland.

The High Court appoints an interim examiner to Pierse Contracting, one of the State’s largest construction firms.

Along with sister company Pierse Building Services, the firms employed 700 people at their peak, before dropping to a third of that and incurring bank debts of some €30 million to Bank of Ireland, Bank of Scotland Ireland and Anglo Irish Bank.

NOVEMBER

The National Assets Management Agency and the banks take control of Michael McNamara and Company after the State’s assets agency rejected the group’s business plan.

The company is owned by developer Bernard McNamara, whose debts are estimated at €1.5 billion. The group has worked on a range of high-profile State-financed projects, including a new €22 million block at Letterkenny General Hospital, from where some 50 workers were turned away by security staff.

November 19: A dozen-strong mission from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) begins formal discussions with the Government on a rescue package.

The government unveils its four-year National Recovery Plan, which includes cuts to social welfare payments, a broadening of the tax base and a new levy on property.

With a view to making €15 billion of savings by 2014, the plan seeks to claw back €10 billion through spending cuts and another €5 billion by way of tax increases, with €6 billion front-loaded in the 2011 budget.

The European Union approves an €85 billion rescue package for Ireland, €10 billion of which will be used immediately to recapitalise the banks.

Ireland secures an extra year – until 2015 – to meet its target of reducing its budgetary deficit to 3 per cent.

Under the terms of the deal, the State is to contribute €17.5 billion of the required funding. The European Financial Stability Mechanism will contribute €22.5 billion, the IMF €22.5 billion and the €22.5 billion from the European Financial Stability Fund.

The interest rate payable on the loans “will vary” according to timing and market conditions.

The number of new cars licensed in November (2,146) was up 126 per cent compared to same month last year, according to CSO figures. However, November 2009 sales were the lowest for that month since 1965.

DECEMBER

President of the European Central Bank Jean-Claude Trichet (above right) describes Ireland’s €85 billion EU-IMF rescue package as the best programme “to preserve the medium and long-term stability and prosperity of Ireland”.

As European finance ministers gave their formal endorsement to Ireland’s EU-IMF rescue plan, IMF managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn urged them to enlarge their €750 billion bailout fund and said that the “piecemeal” approach to the crisis was not a good one.

The Government unveils its budget in which middle-income workers, families and social welfare recipients are set to bear the brunt of a €6 billion adjustment. The recovery plan seeks to make €10 billion in spending cuts and another €5 billion by way of tax increases in four years, with €6 billion front-loaded next year.

Retailers who saw their business drop by 25 per cent during the first heavy snow of the winter had hopes for an even busier Christmas rush; however further snow in Christmas week is set to dampen sales.