Ireland

Banks will need to show borrowers and businesses hit by the coronavirus pandemic further leeway, the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar has said, The Irish Times reported. A payment break for mortgages and business loans for those financially affected by the virus is due to expire at the end of September. Mr Varadkar said on Wednesday that the Government would continue to discuss further forbearance for loans with the country’s main banks.

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Pub lobbyists should find out today if their campaign to win Government agreement for a reopening of so-called wet pubs has been successful, The Irish Times reported. Representatives of the wider hospitality sector, meanwhile, have a fine line to walk in the run-up to the upcoming budget between calling for State help and managing the message that many businesses may go bust in the depths of winter. There is widespread belief in the hospitality trade that early January will herald a wave of insolvencies in the sector.

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Consumers have begun to save less and spend more as lockdown measures introduced to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic continue to ease, according to data from Bank of Ireland, The Irish Times reported. The bank’s Savings and Investment Index, which was published on Monday, demonstrates the changing attitudes of Irish consumers as the economy begins to re-open. Compared to the period of full blown lockdown when savings increased significantly, less people are now saving by default.

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Personal insolvency applications reached a record high in July, according to figures from business and credit risk analyst CRIF Vision-net, The Irish Times reported. The Insolvency Service of Ireland (ISI) received 239 applications for personal insolvency arrangements, debt relief notices and debt settlement arrangements. This is a 125 per cent increase on the 106 applications made in July last year. The number of applications to the ISI have been higher in almost all months this year in comparison to 2019, CRIF Vision-net said, but July has seen the largest spike to date.

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Banks calculate that two-thirds of those in long-term arrears on their mortgage repayments ultimately risk losing their homes, it has emerged, The Irish Times reported. About 26,000 people are 720 days or more behind with their home-loan repayments, classing these debts as being in long-term arrears. An email from Central Bank economist Fergal McCann, responding to questions from consumer rights campaigners, says information from lenders suggests that two-thirds of the long-term mortgage arrears group have “loss of ownership flagged as the banks’ resolution path”.

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New company registrations dipped to a five-year low in the first half of the year, as the coronavirus pandemic chilled the business environment, The Irish Times reported. But figures from credit risk analyst CRIF Vision-net point to more positive figures in June as a potential indicator of recovery. A total of 9,853 company start-ups were registered in Ireland in first half of 2020, the lowest number since the first half of 2015, when 8,981 were registered.

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KBC Bank Ireland’s chief executive, Peter Roebben, has given his strongest indication that the bank may sell long-standing problem mortgages to avoid being forced by regulators to set aside more expensive capital against these loans, The Irish Times reported. “We have to keep the option of a potential sale of the deeper, longer-lasting historical non-performing book,” Mr Roebben said in a wide-ranging interview with The Irish Times.

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The High Court has appointed joint provisional liquidators to a Dublin city centre based nursing home, The Irish Times reported. The application was in relation to St Monica’s Nursing Home Ltd, which ran the elderly care facility at Belvedere Place, Dublin had catered for 46 residents, and had employed 65 full-time and part-time employees.

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The level of corporate insolvencies in Ireland may peak next year at levels last seen at the end of the financial crisis as the real cost of the Covid-19 economic shock on businesses becomes apparent, according to a leading insolvency expert, The Irish Times reported. “In the short-term my prediction is that insolvency numbers will return in 2021 to the worst numbers of the last recession,” said Neil Hughes, insolvency practitioner and managing partner of Baker Tilly Chartered Accountants in Ireland.

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