Belgium

Brussels and Rome have clashed over Italy’s economic policies, reigniting an argument over EU budget rules in a process that could lead to financial sanctions against Giuseppe Conte’s anti-establishment government, the Financial Times reported. The European Commission said on Wednesday that Italy had failed to meet agreed targets for reining in spending and cutting public debt, the second highest in the eurozone at 132 per cent of gross domestic product in 2018.

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Brussels has sent a letter warning Italy’s populist government over its rising debt levels, setting up a fresh clash between the EU and Rome less than week after European elections, the Financial Times reported. The European Commission on Wednesday wrote to Italy’s finance ministry asking for an explanation on the country’s deteriorating debt situation.

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Matteo Salvini has called for a “fiscal shock” of tax cuts in Italy as he exerts his political influence after a resounding victory in the European elections, but Brussels is preparing to hit back over Rome’s budget plans, the Financial Times reported. Italy’s deputy prime minister and leader of the anti-immigration League party said that Italy “must lower taxes”. “We need a Trump cure, an Orban cure, a positive fiscal shock to restart the country,” Mr Salvini said in a radio interview on Tuesday.

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Belgian financial services giant KBC Group has recouped nearly a third of the €1.4 billion it injected into its Irish unit during the financial crisis to rescue the business as it grappled with mounting bad loan losses, The Irish Times reported. KBC Bank Ireland, which returned to profit in 2015, paid €183 million back by way of a dividend to its Brussels-based parent last year, a spokeswoman for the unit said. That is in addition to an initial €227 million handed over in 2017 – bringing the total to €410 million, or 29.3 per cent of its total rescue bill following the crash.

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Banks risk derailing a rescue deal for Europe’s largest zinc producer Nyrstar, threatening thousands of jobs in the process if the company is forced into liquidation, the Financial Times reported. Lenders to the Belgian-registered company are currently unwilling to take a loss on metal-for-loan deals as part of a restructuring deal that has been agreed by Nyrstar bondholders and Trafigura, its largest shareholder, according to people familiar with the matter.

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Nyrstar, Europe’s biggest zinc producer, has defered bond coupon payments as it tries to strike a restructuring deal with creditors and avoid bankruptcy, the Financial Times reported. The Belgian-based company had been due to pay €31.6m of interest on €850m of debt today but has deciced to exercise 30-day grace period so that it can continue talks with bondholders and Trafigura, its biggest shareholder.

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Nyrstar, the debt-laden metals and mining group, has announced management changes, appointing an executive chairman and an interim chief financial officer. The Belgian-listed company, which is working on a deal to restructure its debts, said Martyn Konig had agreed to take up the role of executive chairman, while Roman Matej had been appointed CFO, replacing Michel Abaza who has left the group, the Financial Times reported.

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Eurostar Diamond Traders has entered restructuring proceedings in Belgium, having amassed substantial debts, according to the company’s court-appointed administrator, Rapaport News reported. The Antwerp-based diamond manufacturer owes more than $500 million to creditors across its global operations, Alain Van den Cloot, one of the administrators, estimated in an email to Rapaport News. Two Antwerp courts designated Van den Cloot and a second attorney, Nathalie Vermeersch, as provisional administrators for Eurostar’s Belgian business last month.

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Nyrstar NV, one of the world’s largest zinc smelting companies, is collapsing under the weight of its own debt, Bloomberg News reported. The shares plumbed fresh lows on Tuesday and the price of its bonds due next year is now 50 cents on the euro. Analysts say the company is headed for an inevitable restructuring, and the shares will soon be worthless. Here are five charts that explain how this powerhouse producer was pushed to the brink. When it listed in Brussels in 2007, Nyrstar made its money buying zinc ore from mines and smelting the raw material into a refined metal.

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Shares in Europe’s biggest zinc smelting company Nyrstar crashed to a record low on Monday after ABN Amro said they were virtually worthless and advised clients to “abandon ship,” the Financial Times reported. “Given Nyrstar’s liquidity position and the company’s large debt and interest burden, we believe a debt restructuring process is inevitable,” said ABN analyst Philip Ngotho in a report, reiterating his sell rating and setting a 1 cent target price, down from €1.

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