Opening Bell: Spotlight on motor insurance costs, prime Dublin properties on sale, Behr-Monsanto deal is go

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It's hoped that a fresh investigation into the motor insurance industry will lead to reduced premiums for drivers.

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission is investigating whether senior insurance industry players may have signalled premium rises to their competitors.

The body says it will take action to stop anti-competitive practices, if necessary.

Fianna Fáil's Transport spokesman Robert Troy has said it is time we got to the bottom of the issue:

"A lot of people who have faced a huge hikes int he cost of their insurance have never had any claims, have no penalty points. So there is some underlying factor that is driving up the cost of premiums.

"We have to get to the bottom of that, we have to ensure we return to a normal insurance market where people are paying a fair premium on an annual basis."

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A total of 30 prime Dublin city centre properties owned by developer Bernard McNamara have just hit the market with a guide price of more than €27 million.

McNamara had acquired the 'Madrid' portfolio, consisting of 18 commercial and 12 retail units located just off Grafton Street, during the boom years.

The properties dispersed across South William Street, Chatham Row, Coppinger Row, Clarendon Street and Balfe Street were initially bought to create a new residential and retail quarter to the west of Grafton Street, before the economic crash put paid to McNamara's plans.

The portfolio is being sold in one to three lots by agents Knight Frank, on the instruction of real estate advisors Duff & Phelps and NAMA.

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The Cabinet will today discuss a report into NAMA's sale of its Northern Irish loanbook which says the taxpayer may have lost out on hundreds of millions of euro.

The long-awaited report from the Comptroller and Auditor General on the sale of the so-called 'Project Eagle' portfolio is to be published and referred to the Public Accounts Committee.

NAMA has always insisted it got the best possible price for the loans - but it’s believed the report today will say there were major irregularities in the sale, which reduced the possible process by hundreds of millions.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny says he'll discuss the option of a possible Commission of Investigation with other party leaders.

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German drugs giant Bayer AG is set to announce the acquisition of US seeds company Monsanto today, according to Reuters.

The deal of over $66 billion will be the biggest of the year and the largest cash acquisition proposal on record.

The purchase will give Bayer the top spot in the fast-consolidating farm supplies industry, as it brings together its crop science business and Monsanto's strength in seeds.

It could also draw the interest of antitrust regulators.

Following four months of talks, the breakthrough apparently came after Bayer made an improved offer on the $127.50 per share in cash it disclosed last week.