Austria

Austria has experienced plenty of scandalous bank failures in the past decade, not least at Hypo Alpe Adria, the house lender of the late Freedom Party leader Joerg Haider, Bloomberg News reported. Yet the fraud that brought down tiny Commerzialbank Mattersburg im Burgenland AG raises questions for financial regulators and auditors that have uncomfortable echoes of the Wirecard AG debacle in neighboring Germany.

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Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI) on Tuesday posted a 44% slump in second-quarter profit, largely due to the economic impact of the pandemic in the countries in which it operates, but confirmed its 2020 targets, Reuters reported. The Austrian lender, which does business across central and eastern Europe, said consolidated net profit came in at 192 million euros ($226 million) in the three months per end-June, beating analyst expectations of 143 million euros.

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Austrian short-haul budget carrier Level Europe plans to file for insolvency, it said on Thursday, becoming the latest airline casualty of the coronavirus crisis despite the financial might of parent IAG, Reuters reported. The small airline, previously known as ANISEC, began operating in 2018. It has six Airbus short-haul jets and is part of IAG-owned Vueling Group. British Airways owner IAG also operates a long-haul airline called Level, which is separate from Level Europe, an IAG spokeswoman said.

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Switzerland and Austria pledged to help Lufthansa with state-backed loans as the German airline pursues talks with Berlin over a 9 billion euro ($9.8 billion) rescue package, Reuters reported. The Swiss government said on Wednesday it will ask parliament for 1.275 billion francs in loan guarantees for Lufthansa (LHAG.DE) units Swiss and Edelweiss. Strict travel restrictions to contain the coronavirus pandemic have brought flights to a near-halt across the world and there is no end in sight for when they can restart, leaving many airlines begging governments for rescue packages.

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The heated auction between buyout firm Bain Capital and Austria’s AMS AG for the German LED-maker Osram Licht AG has ended in no deal, a Bloomberg View reported. The prospect of a transaction being rekindled in the near term looks bleak — though not impossible over the longer run. It beggars belief that a tense round of bidding can culminate in no more than a tangled mess. But this is regrettably often the way with German M&A.

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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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