Last week's revelations that Goldman Sachs and a number of other banks were used by the Greek government to "reduce" its debt levels brought to mind a particular domestic bank, namely Anglo Irish Bank, which saw its derivatives book surge between 2006 and 2008. In Greece's case the bank's traders created deals that allowed the country raise money, thereby reducing its budget deficit, in return for repayments over time at a later date – therefore painting a rosier financial picture. Here, however, the sharp rise in the now-nationalised Anglo Irish Bank's derivatives book has never been adequately explained.
At the end of its 2007 financial year, Anglo's "total derivative financial instruments" stood at €174bn, up from just over €100bn the previous year. By the end of 2008 it stood at just under €250bn, while in the six months after that the figure dropped to less than €217.5m. Traders in the City of London whom the Sunday Tribune has discussed it with over the last few months say they are in the dark as to the reason for the surge, and the bank has remained largely silent on the issue. Perhaps we'll finally get some clarity when the now-nationalised bank's annual results are published. The expectation is that that will happen at some stage next month.
Britvic fizzes at sales prospect
Drinks company Britvic seems to be optimistic that it will offload three of its sites in this country this year, which would be unusual in a climate where land is virtually worthless. A note in its accounts shows that assets held for sale, which are valued at £5.1m, relate to three of Britvic Ireland's sites which are being marketed and "it is expected that they will be sold in the forthcoming year". Britvic announced last year that sites in Cork, Ballyshannon and Waterford were to be closed as part of a company restructuring following the acquisition of the business from C&C.
One of the sites had also been classified as being for sale in the previous financial year but "deterioration of the economy in the Republic of Ireland made conditions for a successful sale in the period very challenging". The assets were written down to "current market values" from £5.9m the previous year. In addition, "onerous leases" here contributed to a £2.4m exceptional items charge for the year.
Company Reporting, which monitors compliance with IFRS accounting standards, points out, however, that the drinks manufacturer "does not claim that the sales are highly probable" but accounting rules do not require such disclosure.