Daily Insolvency News Headlines

Fri., November 28, 2014

Fri., November 28, 2014

The property developer Vincent Tchenguiz has filed a $3.5 billion claim in London against the accounting firm Grant Thornton, the Icelandic bank Kaupthing and three individuals, claiming they were behind a flawed criminal inquiry into the bank’s collapse, the International New York Times DealBook blog reported. The Serious Fraud Office of Britain dropped its inquiry against Mr. Tchenguiz in June 2012 after it admitted that the way it had handled some seized material in the case “was flawed and thus unlawful.” The fraud office later also dropped the investigation against his brother, Robert, and was criticized by the High Court of Justice for the way it handled the case. This year, the Serious Fraud Office agreed to pay a combined 4.5 million pounds, or about $7 million, to settle separate civil claims by Mr. Tchenguiz and his brother, Robert. On Thursday, Mr. Tchenguiz filed a claim seeking up to 2.2 billion pounds, or about $3.5 billion, in Commercial Court in London, saying individuals at Grant Thornton and the bank conspired to convince the fraud office to investigate Mr. Tchenguiz, his company and a family trust. His claims include conspiracy by unlawful means and malicious prosecution. Read more. (Subscription required.)

Fri., November 28, 2014

Thousands of workers, students and pensioners marched through central Athens Thursday as part of a 24-hour nationwide general strike called by the country’s two biggest unions to protest against the government’s austerity program, The Wall Street Journal reported. The protesters, who filed through the city’s main square and past parliament, called on the two-party coalition government to end the austerity measures that pushed the economy into a deep recession, shrank output by roughly 30% and left more than a quarter of the workforce without jobs. Police said they estimated some 25,000 demonstrators took part in the protest; there were no reports of violence, and riot police were largely absent from the center of the Greek capital. The demonstrators chanted slogans and carried banners that read: “Not one single layoff! The rights of the workers is the law, ” and “Out with the EU and the IMF. Write off the debt,” in reference to the demands of Greece’s creditors from the eurozone and the International Monetary Fund. Read more. (Subscription required.)

Fri., November 28, 2014

Sputnik Engineering, the parent company of Swiss inverter manufacturer Solarmax, will file for insolvency in Switzerland this week PV Tech has learned. In a circular sent to customers and seen by PV Tech, the company said it had looked for alternatives but to no avail. “The employees have been informed this morning and will stop working today until further notice,” it said in the statement. The company is not the first European manufacturer to struggle as the domestic market declined and competition increased. “Solarmax had been the fifth largest supplier in the world in 2008, with a market share of over 4%,” said Sam Wilkinson, research manager at market research firm, IHS. “Its market share has declined each year since, and it held a share of less than 1% in 2013. "Solarmax had also made efforts at internationalising its business to offset the decline of Europe, by entering into the United States solar market in 2013. It had struggled to gain significant market share due to the intense competition from local manufacturers of string inverters such as Advanced Energy and Solectria, as well as numerous other European and Asian suppliers employing similar internationalisation strategy,” added Wilkinson. Despite a recent focus on string inverters to compensate for the decline in the European utility market, the company has continued to struggle. Read more.

Fri., November 28, 2014

The first balance sheet of Portugal's Novo Banco, the successor to Banco Espirito Santo following a state rescue in August, will show solvency ratios above the required threshold and no need for additional capital, its chief executive said, Reuters reported. Eduardo Stock da Cunha told reporters on Thursday the bank's deposits were recovering after a drop in the wake of the rescue that split BES into the working Novo Banco and a "bad bank" exposed to liabilities of its founding Espirito Santo family. The state rescued Portugal's largest listed lender in early August with a 4.9 billion euro ($6.1 billion) package, mostly in public funds, after the business empire of the Espirito Santos collapsed under a mountain of debt. Read more.

Fri., November 28, 2014

OW Tanker, a unit of bankrupt OW Bunker and owner of its marine fuel supply ships, has been taken over by a newly-created company, the fleet manager told Reuters on Wednesday. OW Bunker, the largest ship fuel supplier in the world, collapsed earlier this month after it said it had lost almost $300 million in hedging losses and unauthorised credit lines given in Singapore. Henrik Pedersen said the takeover by Alba Tanker ApS, which has the trustees of the bankrupt company on its board, is part of the process of securing assets for the estate. OW Tanker owned 10 vessels and chartered 19, according to its website. Pedersen said it employs around 115 people, mostly vessel crews, and is now looking for new clients. PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) said it had agreed with ING Bank NV and OW Bunker's trustees to work together in recouping some $750 million the company owes to a group of 13 banks, including ING. Read more.

Fri., November 28, 2014

The Central Bank of Ireland has proposed a raft of new regulations for credit unions, covering a number of areas including reserves, liquidity, lending, investments, controls, and reporting requirements, the Irish Times reported. The draft regulations are designed to ensure that “appropriate limits and requirements” are in place for the credit union sector. Under the new rules, the maximum amount that somebody can save with a credit union will be limited to €100,000, half the level currently in place. This is to ensure that credit unions’ funding is “sufficiently diversified” while “also protecting members’ savings”. It is proposed that credit unions will be given six months to bring any savings that do no meet the terms of the new regulation into compliance. In addition, credit unions will be limited to borrowing up to 25 per cent of their aggregate savings, half the level that currently exists. A number of requirements relate to the lending framework. The large exposure limit is now the greater of €39,000, or 10 per cent of the regulatory reserve. The existing requirement is the greater of €39,000 or 1.5 per cent of assets. This change is designed to ensure that lending takes account of the credit union’s ability to absorb any losses that may arise from credit risk. Read more.

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