Seen and Heard: NTR examining prospect of share buyback

Third Point hedge fund building stake in Elan

NTR share buyback
Investment group NTR is examining the prospect of organising a share buyback or a special dividend to return €100 million to shareholders this year. The payout equates to 50 cent, the level at which the shares are currently trading on the grey market, the Sunday Times reported.

The Roche family, which founded the original National Toll Roads, still hold a 38 per cent share in the business with investment company One51 also a major shareholder on the back of the 24 per cent stake built up under the leadership of former chief executive Philip Lynch.

The paper reported that NTR had about €180 million in cash on its books, just over half of that coming from the sale of its Greenstar business in the United States.

Loeb targets Elan
US activist hedge fund Third Point has been building up a stake in Irish biotech group Elan since it announced it was putting itself up for sale following a prolonged takeover battle with Royalty Pharma, the Sunday Business Post reported.

Citing stock exchange filings, the paper said the fund run by activist shareholder Daniel Loeb had accumulated 2.34 per cent of Elan's shares, most at $14, putting the cost of the holding at about $179 million. The Third Point fund has more than $12 billion in assets under management.

Mr Loeb, who also has major stakes in Yahoo and Sony, has a history of being an outspoken investor, with a record of intervening in the management of companies in which he has a stake, often sending frank and opinionated letters to directors.

Central Bank forensics
Central Bank investigators are sifting through 60,000 emails as they look to build a case against a number of former senior executives at the Irish Nationwide Building Society. The bank confirmed to the Sunday Independent that it would be prepared to release the emails, if asked, to any future banking inquiry. EY, the former Ernst & Young, is working through the emails as the Central Bank looks for evidence to prove the building society, which collapsed at a cost to the taxpayer of €5.4 billion, was systemically mismanaged for decades and repeatedly breached various banking rules, the paper reports.

UK growth prospects
The International Monetary Fund is expected to raise its growth forecast for the UK this week, according to the Sunday Telegraph.

The paper says that the agency, which previously claimed the economy was too weak to tolerate further government austerity proposals, is now likely to raise its 2013 forecast from 0.7 per cent to 1 per cent or close to it.

The paper says such a move would be seen as a victory for the UK treasury in an ongoing debate with the IMF which downgraded the British economy in April.

The update will come with the release this week of the IMF’s World Economic Outlook. However, it will put projected 2013 growth in the UK below the 1.1 level the IMF had been expecting last October.