Seen and Heard: Plan for tax changes on special-purpose investment vehicles

Mary Mitchell O’Connor denies ‘strips were torn off her’

Ali Hewson, Bono and Eve Hewson with Jordan Hewson, who set up tech firm Speakable last year. Photograph: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Ali Hewson, Bono and Eve Hewson with Jordan Hewson, who set up tech firm Speakable last year. Photograph: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images


The Government will implement tax changes on special purpose investment vehicles used by property groups, no matter when they were set up, according to the Sunday Business Post. The paper claims this is despite intense lobbying by property funds in recent weeks in an effort to ensure any changes will only apply to companies established after reforms are introduced. Ahead of Thursday’s publication of the finance Bill, the paper reports that the Department of Finance is now planning a two-stage Bill, with more complex measures – such as tax reform on these structures – to be implemented at a later date.

However the Sunday Times reports that lobbying on the issue is continuing this weekend and the matter is expected to be addressed in this week’s Bill.

Minister ‘fighting for Ireland’

The Minister for Jobs and Enterprise, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, has been the subject of several interviews over the weekend. The interviews follow reports earlier this week that she was strongly criticised for her record to date at a recent parliamentary party meeting. In the Sunday Independent Ms Mitchell O’Connor dismissed reports that “strips were torn off her”. She said the meeting was “difficult” but she was “fighting for Ireland”.

In the Sunday Business Post interview she expresses disappointment that there were no measures in the budget to encourage emigrants to return. She also responds to criticism on the lack of budget measures to support businesses. “We actually were quite happy that we had some wins, but we also have commitment from the Minister (for Finance) that we’ll go further in the next budget,” she said. “I’m a realist: you don’t always get what you want.” The paper reports that the Minister will travel to Silicon Valley in the next few weeks as part of her first IDA trade mission. She will meet with senior executives with tech firms, including Apple and Facebook.

Jordan Hewson activates ‘action button’

A tech firm, set up by an Irish woman and aiming to promote social activism, has secured $2 million in funding. The tech firm, Speakable, was set up last year by Jordan Hewson, a daughter of U2 lead singer Bono and businesswoman Ali Hewson. Both the Sunday Times and the Sunday Business Post report on the firm, which has developed an “action button”, which can be embedded in digital content to make it easier for readers to engage with issues in a story. This can be done by making a donation to a selected NGO related to the issue involved, or by signing a petition or tweeting a relevant policymaker.

Zappone rules out ‘cash benefit’

In an interview with the Sunday Independent, Minister for Children Katherine Zappone has said she will not give a “cash benefit” to relatives who carry out childminding duties for busy parents in future budgets. She also rule out any direct payments to stay-at-home mothers. Her position is at odds with fellow Cabinet minister Shane Ross, who the paper says insisted that both groups should be rewarded in the next budget.

Renewables fund initiates sell-off

A Canadian renewables fund, which bought Bord Gáis’s wind-farm assets two years ago, has initiated a process to sell off large parts of its Irish portfolio, according to the Sunday Independent. The paper states the fund’s Irish wind farm assets carry an estimated value of €1 billion. These were purchased at the time for €700 million. The particular assets it is now seeking to sell comprise two Munster wind farms. The paper says there are 30 to 40 interested parites, in particular British, Canadian and European pension funds. Brookfield declined to comment to the paper.

Blooms Hotel owner lining up Central Bank offer

The owner of Dublin pub the Oliver St John Gogarty and nearby Blooms Hotel is lining up an offer for two city-centre buildings being sold by the Central Bank of Ireland, the Sunday Times reports. Martin Keane is reportedly set to submit a bid for 6-8 College Green, on the market for €14 million, and 9 College Green, on the market for €2 million. The properties are separate to the €65 million sale of the main Central Bank building and two connected office blocks.

William Hill to continue Amaya talks

Bookmaker William Hill plans to continue talks about a multibillion pound merger with Canadian online poker giant Amaya in defiance of opposition from its largest shareholder. Parvus Asset Management, an activist investor with a history of blocking large takeovers, owns a 14.3 per cent share in the bookmaker. The Sunday Telegraph reports that in an open letter, the hedge fund accused the company of pursuing a tie-up that had “limited strategic logic” and would “destroy shareholder value”. William Hill claims that combining its sports betting business with the Canadian parent company of the PokerStars online casino would “create a clear international leader across online sports betting, poker and casino”.

McCauley Pharmacies may consider ISE listing

Irish pharmacy chain McCauley Pharmacies is open to bring in a new equity investor and may consider listing on the Irish Stock Exchange as it pushes through its expansion plans. In an interview with the Sunday Independent, the executive chairman of the 30-store chain, Sam McCauley, said: “I don’t see any reason why an Irish pharmacy group can’t hold the same position as Musgraves or Dunnes in the grocery market.”