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Spanish report Spanish report
by Euro Reporter
2011-08-13 11:27:08
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Billionaire Spanish Duchess of Alba, 85, gives away fortune to marry

Spain’s 18th Duchess of Alba is giving away her personal fortune so she can marry a Spanish civil servant, 25 years her junior. With thousands of acres of land, a priceless art collection and a dozen castles the personal estate of 85-year-old Duchess – one of Spain’s richest women – is thought to be worth between €600 million and €3.5 billion. As her six children and eight grandsons reportedly disapprove of her marriage to Social Security worker Alfonso Diez, she plans to give them their inheritance in advance, according to press reports.

''Alfonso doesn't want anything. All he wants is me,'' the aristocrat said during an interview in February this year. “I still don’t understand why my children are making it so difficult. We are not hurting anyone.” Her eldest son Carlos Fitz-James Stuart, 63, is set to inherit the Palacio Liria in Madrid and the Monterrey Palace in Salamanca, and will gain control of the family fortune, according to Spanish newspaper El Pais. But much of the estate is owned by the state, and cannot be sold. The father of her children was Luis Martínez de Irujo, son of the Duke of Sotomayor, who died in 1972. In 1978 she married former Jesuit priest, Jesus Aguirre y Ortiz de Zarate, who died in 2001.

Plans of a wedding to her current love, Diez, 60, were called off in 2008, following an alleged telephone call from the King ‘discouraging’ the duchess from marrying him. As head of the 539-year-old House of Alba, Maria Del Rosario Cayetana Alfonsa Victoria Eugenia Francisca Fitz-James Stuart y de Silva has more titles than any noble in the world, according to Guinness World Records. Among her privileges are having the right to ride on horseback into Sevilla Cathedral and not having to kneel before the Pope. The Duchess is a distant relative of King James II, Winston Churchill and Diana, Princess of Wales.


Spain to coordinate any extension of short selling ban

Spain will seek to coordinate with European authorities any possible extension of the temporary ban on short selling, a spokeswoman for the country's stock market authority CNMV said Friday. Citing extreme market volatility, the CNMV late Thursday banned short selling operations or the increase of existing short positions on a list of 16 financial stocks for 15 days starting Aug. 11, but added the ban may be extended if necessary.

The spokeswoman said the CNMV will monitor the situation, and will stay in contact with the European Securities and Markets Authority, or ESMA, which coordinates securities rules among European Union member nations.

The move--coinciding with similar measures in Italy, Belgium and France--comes after days of heavy selling of financial stocks. Still, it hasn't resulted in an immediate stop to losses, as top banking stocks like Banco Santander SA (STD) and Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA (BBVA.MC) dropped after the market open Friday.  The ban covers all short positions, including those held through derivatives, which have become increasingly popular in Spain in recent years.


Spain national inflation ticks lower in July

Spanish consumer inflation fell to its lowest since December in July, hit by weak domestic demand and the fading of impact from a value-added tax hike a year earlier. High energy prices still drove national consumer prices 3.1 percent up year-on-year, in line with the flash reading and analysts' forecasts, but that was down from 3.2 percent a month earlier, National Statistics Institute data showed. Consumer prices rose 3.0 percent year-on-year in July on an EU-harmonised basis, equal to that recorded in June.

"We're now in a comparable period after the VAT hike, so this effect has been taken out and is a reason we can expect lower inflation over the next few months," economist at M&G Valores Nicolas Lopez said. Spain's Socialists increased VAT to 18 percent from 16 percent in July last year as part of saving measures to assure nervous investors it had control of the national finances. Despite an economy struggling with low growth, high unemployment and budget cutbacks, Spanish consumer prices have tended to be more volatile and above the euro zone average due to high imports of energy such as crude and natural gas.

The euro zone is expected to report inflation of 2.5 percent year on year in July on Aug 17. Core inflation, which strips out volatile food and energy prices, was 1.6 percent, down from 1.7 percent in June. "The core inflation was a surprise for us as we were expecting an increase due to higher tobacco prices. That factor has been offset by drop in clothing and footwear prices, which could be a sign of weak consumer spending," economist at Cortal Consors Estefania Ponte said. Spain's economy has been in recession or stagnant for around three years after the global financial crisis cut off consumer lending, bursting a decade-long property bubble and paralysing domestic demand.

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