Some little things . . .

 

GLOBAL FINANCIAL markets might still be in turmoil, but Citibank’s Irish operation managed to dodge the storm last year. Citibank Europe reported a 35.6 per cent increase in profits before tax in the year to December, up to €755 million, thanks to strong growth in its global transaction services division.

And it’s not just this operation that benefited from the warm winds blowing its way – the company also paid over a dividend of €565 million to its parent company during the year.

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It’s not often that Ireland beats Spain, in football at least, but since the start of May we have been outperforming the Iberian nation – and our fellow “group of debt” member Italy – on the sovereign funding markets.

Just before the first-round Greek elections on May 6th, Irish nine-year bond yields were hovering at about 6.8 per cent. The fallout of that election pushed funding costs higher for Ireland, with borrowing costs rising about 60 basis points since then.

This beats both Spain and Italy, who have seen their 10-year yields surge by about 110 and 64 basis points respectively during the same period.

Before we begin gloating, it’s probably worth pointing out that Irish yields are now back over 7 per cent. While this rate is somewhat academic at the moment given that we source our funding from the troika, it’s hardly impressive and doesn’t bode well for a future return to the open market. And unlike the other two beleaguered countries, we’ve had to suffer the indignity of a sovereign bailout.

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Paddy Power’s marketing techniques hit a new high – or low, depending on your point of view – on Wednesday night, when Danish footballer Nicklas Bentner displayed the bookie’s logo on the waistband of his boxers after scoring a goal. But did their shock tactic work? “Their pants may be down, but their shares were unchanged,” a Dublin trader told us yesterday.