Aviva and Zurich push back at insurers rescue fund plan

Seen & Heard: Johnny Ronan nears Bank of Ireland refinancing of €141m loans

Two of the leading overseas-owned general insurers in the Irish market, Aviva and Zurich, have hit out at proposals to establish a rescue fund for bust insurers or make industry players set aside more capital, claiming that it would make Ireland less attractive for investment in the market, according to the Sunday Times.

The companies were responding to proposals from the Department of Finance and Central Bank on a new resolution regime for the sector, which also involves a planned overhaul of the existing insurance compensation fund.

Aviva said customers would ultimately bear the cost of industry players having to commit money to a rescue fund or set aside additional precautionary capital.

The UK group said that stricter policing should be applied to overseas firms allowed to “passport” into the Irish market, as they have accounted for the bulk of recent failures.

Ronan nears refinancing of €141m loans

The Sunday Times also reports that developer Johnny Ronan's Ronan Group Real Estate (RGRE) is in advanced talks to secure a loan from Bank of Ireland to refinance €141 million of loans attached to 12 properties, after the current lender, UK-based M&G Investments, appointed receivers over the assets in March.

The Irish Times reported last week that RGRE secured a commitment from an unnamed leading bank to refinance the portfolio, which is valued at €300 million.

Savills is currently readying five of the portfolio’s 12 assets for sale on behalf of receivers, in the event that the refinancing does not go through. M&G is owed the money arising from its backing of RGRE’s refinancing of Nama loans in 2015, which allowed the developer to exit the State’s so-called bad bank. The loans were due to be repaid at the end of January.

Methane ‘cap and trade’ proposed to cut dairy emissions

The Sunday Business post reports that a Government-appointed group has proposed an unprecedented “cap and trade” system on methane levels and a multimillion-euro scheme to encourage farmers to move away from dairy in order to cut climate-harming emissions.

The proposals are among options being put forward in an interim report from the Food Vision Dairy Group, which was set up by Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConologue in January to advise on how to reduce emissions from dairy farming.

The “cap and trade” plan involves farmers being assigned individual rights for methane and nitrous oxide emissions on an annual or multi-annual basis. If they wanted to expand their herd, they would need to acquire emission rights from other farmers that were downsizing or retiring.

BoyleSports targets UK expansion

BoyleSports, the Irish betting company, is in the midst of significant expansion of its network in Britain, with plans to open 20 new stores, according to the Sunday Independent.

The newspaper reported that BoyleSports already has 25 stores in Britain, with four opening last month. It cites the company’s chief financial officer, Mark O’Neill, as saying that the vast majority of the openings will be in the English midlands and that it also has plans to bolster its brand online.

The company, founded in 1989, has more than 340 betting shops across the island of Ireland and Britain.