Austria

Two years ago Austria broke records in debt markets by selling €3.5bn of 100-year bonds, the Financial Times reported. Now the central European country is eyeing another “century bond” as investors clamour for long-dated instruments in a world awash in ultra-low, and even negative, sovereign yields. Vienna plans to issue €3bn of five-year bonds and also test investor demand for up to €1bn of 100-year bonds, according to one banker close to the deal. Last time, in September 2017, the century bond was heavily oversubscribed, drawing bids of €11.4bn.

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Investors who were bold or lucky enough to buy a little-known, opaque and illiquid vestige of one of Europe’s most dramatic bank failures may make a killing. Their good fortune is another odd twist in the wild history of Hypo Alpe-Adria-Bank International AG, the Austrian lender that nearly collapsed under bad loans piled up in a state-sponsored buying spree in the former Yugoslavia, Bloomberg News reported.

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South African retailer International Holdings N.V. said on Tuesday a former partner firm of its European operations claims it is owed about 291 million euros (£256.62 million or $331 million) by the company, the International New York Times reported on a Reuters story. Steinhoff is in the middle of a clean-up of its balance sheet after discovering multi-billion euro holes in its balance sheet more than a year ago. LWS GmbH, a company linked to Austrian businessman Andreas Seifert, claims to be a creditor of Steinhoff Europe AG (SEAG), the parent company said.

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Waagner-Biro, the steel engineering company who constructed the remarkable steel dome over Jean Nouvel‘s Louvre Abu Dhabi, has announced insolvency, designboom reported. The Austrian firm’s financial issues are reportedly due to late payments and unexpected costs incurred by Louvre Abu Dhabi for the steel structure. The dome, which stretches 178 meters in diameter and is made from steel and aluminium, cost €80 million to construct.

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Crisis-hit Steinhoff will sell Austrian property assets valued at 490 million euros (428.3 million pounds) to tycoon Rene Benko's Signa Holding, it said on Friday, the latest sale by the South African retailer following an accounting scandal, the International New York Times reported on a Reuters story. Steinhoff has been battling to stay afloat since last December when it revealed holes in its accounts that sent its shares crashing and forced it into selling some of its assets to pay down debt and beef up its liquidity.
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Steinhoff International Holding NV agreed to sell its Austrian furniture retailer Rudolf Leiner GmbH and real estate assets to billionaire Rene Benko’s Signa Holding GmbH to prevent a looming insolvency of the unit, Bloomberg News reported. The conditional offer could plug a cash-draining hole for Steinhoff, which has been trying to restructure the unprofitable Austrian business also known as Kika/Leiner amid fierce competition from bigger rival XXXLutz and Sweden’s Ikea. Kika/Leiner’s fate has hung in the balance since credit insurers withdrew guarantees for its suppliers earlier this month.
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Steinhoff International Holdings NV’s Austrian unit is in talks with international insurance companies to find a new credit underwriter for its suppliers, Bloomberg News reported. Rudolf Leiner GmbH, a furniture chain also known by its brand name Kika/Leiner, expects to conclude the search next week, Chief Executive Officer Gunnar George said in a statement Friday. George said he’s in close contact with suppliers in the meantime.
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British IAG is in exclusive talks to buy Niki, Air Berlin’s insolvent Austrian airline after Niki’s administrator said that one bidder out of four remained, Reuters reported. Besides IAG, the owner of British Airways and low-cost carrier Vueling, bidders for holiday airline Niki included tour operators TUI, Thomas Cook and former Formula One world champion Niki Lauda. Niki Lauda, Niki’s founder, was quoted as saying on the website of newspaper Die Presse that he was out of the running. A source said Thomas Cook was also out of the race.
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Around 790 staff working for insolvent airline Niki in Austria will be paid monthly wages for December, administrator Lucas Floether said on Wednesday, adding he was confident of striking a deal with a new investor in the next few days, Reuters reported. The new owner would be expected to take on Niki’s running costs, including salaries, from the beginning of January. Among the four bidders selected for the final stages of talks to buy all or parts of Niki is IAG, the owner of British Airways and low-cost carrier Vueling.
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IAG, the owner of British Airways and low-cost carrier Vueling, is one of the four bidders selected for the final stages of talks over the assets of insolvent Austrian airline Niki, Reuters reported. IAG had made an offer for Niki as a whole and was the frontrunner in talks for the carrier, the three sources told Reuters. If no deal is struck with IAG, it is possible that Niki will be carved up among several buyers. British tour operator Thomas Cook and Niki’s founder, former Formula One world champion Niki Lauda, are also among the four, Lauda told German daily Handelsblatt.
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