Opening Bell: Housing gets €120m boost, SFA wants capital gains tax cut, CSO wants your roaming data

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A joint venture between Ireland and the US is likely to have committed close to €120 million in capital to housebuilding projects here by the end of the year, the Irish Independent reports.

Activate Capital is a €500m housebuilding fund founded by the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund and private equity giant KKR to address the major decline in Irish house construction.

It is believed to have already committed about €50m in capital since the start of the year. This amount has been earmarked for deals that will generate 800 homes, chiefly in the greater Dublin area.

The initial €500m fund is likely to be deployed over two to three years, with the funds being recycled and redeployed as loans are paid back by developers. This should see a total of €1.5 billion being loaned off the back of the fund.

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The Small Firms Association (SFA) has urged the Government to bring capital gains tax (CGT) back down to 20%, and is seeking a three-year 10% rate for the disposal of sites with planning permission.

In a pre-Budget submission, the SFA argues that an overhaul is needed on the current 33% rate to boost investment and that it has been shown over the last 20 years that when the CGT rate drops, the Exchequer benefits due to a surge in activity.

It calls the proposed move a "win-win" as a result.

Eight years since recession hit, the SFA also makes the case that SMEs are still hurting, and that "many small businesses are still waiting to feel the upturn".

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Goodbody Stockbrokers has dismissed speculation of an imminent takeover by Investec.

While he didn't name Investec specifically, Goodbody managing director Roy Barrett informed staff in an email last month that the company was not in takeover talks.

The clarification follows rumours earlier this year that a deal was in the works and the publishing of a report that Goodbody would make a "good fit" for the global banking and investment firm.

Kerry-based financial services company FEXCO acquired a 75% stake in Goodbody in January 2011 when AIB was selling off non-core assets following its Government bailout.

Rumours of an Investec takeover were fuelled in April when it emerged that Goodbody management and staff had increased their stake from 25% to 49% after reaching incentive targets. Coupled with sources saying the value of the firm had more than quadrupled, it seemed to leave FEXCO well placed to cash in on their investment.

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The Central Statistics Office (CSO) is looking for a change in EU law so that it can use roaming data from mobile phones to help it compile tourism statistics.

In a submission to the European Commission, the CSO calls on a change that would mean people would not have to give consent for the use of their location data for statistical purposes.

Currently phone location data is seen as extremely sensitive by data protection authorities, given the vast amount of private information it can reveal about a person's lifestyle and movements.

The CSO argues that the data is "not only valuable for the compilation of tourism statistics" but could also have "significant potential value" for compiling data on other migration patterns, including daytime, night time, week day and weekend movements.

It argues that “it is important that when safeguarding a person’s right to privacy, that we do not unnecessarily compromise or diminish a person’s right to live in an informed society."