Europe

Rafal Lis almost single-handedly created Poland’s private-debt market. In seven years, he built his company, CVI Dom Maklerski sp. z o.o., into a 5.9 billion zloty ($1.6 billion) boutique asset manager. Then, late last year, he feared it would all come crashing down, Bloomberg News reported. The worst day, he says, was Nov. 20. “My knees buckled as I saw the redemption requests,” Lis recalls in an interview at CVI’s Warsaw headquarters.

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Struggling British department store group Debenhams said on Friday its shareholders could be wiped out as a result of some of the restructuring options it is considering and rebuffed a bid by Sports Direct to buy its Danish business, Reuters reported. Debenhams has issued a string of profit warnings and lost 90 percent of its market value in the past year. The company is trying to fend off an attempt by its largest shareholder, Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct, to take control of the business.

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Many of the recent debates about Chinese takeovers and investments in Europe have been conducted in the opaque language of security. Spooks in Britain and Germany openly worry about the consequences of allowing Chinese groups such as Huawei into their 5G mobile networks. A recent delegation from Berlin even visited China to explore the intriguing idea of a no-spying pact.

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A High Court judge will rule next week whether Seán Quinn’s children can pursue a key claim their father unduly influenced them to sign securities for loans of hundreds of millions by Anglo Irish Bank to Quinn group companies, The Irish Times reported. Mr Justice Garrett Simons’s ruling next Wednesday on their application, strongly resisted by Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IRBC), could significantly affect the conduct of the marathon litigation by the five children, dating back to 2011, denying any liability for a total €415 million under guarantees.

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Theresa May will face up to her own desperately weak political position on Monday as the U.K.’s elected lawmakers move to take over Brexit policy and her own ministers plot to oust her, Bloomberg News reported. The prime minister is under pressure from colleagues inside her Cabinet to name a date when she will step down, with some arguing this would help her win support for her Brexit deal, people familiar with the matter said. May is hoping for one more chance to put the divorce agreement she’s negotiated with the European Union to a vote in the House of Commons this week.

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Italy is considering compensation claims against the European Commission for the strict interpretation it gave to EU banking rules, the Italian prime minister said on Friday, after a landmark EU ruling this week over a bank rescue, Reuters reported. On Tuesday the EU general court overturned Brussels’ decision to block a 2014 rescue plan of small Italian lender Tercas, prompting compensation calls from Italian banks which argued that subsequent banking rescues in Italy were more costly because of the Commission’s strict position.

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The European Central Bank withdrew its request to gain more power over derivatives clearinghouses, exposing a rift among European Union authorities over how to regulate the increasingly critical market, Bloomberg News reported. The Governing Council unanimously decided to retract the demand it made in 2017, according to a statement from the Frankfurt-based institution. ECB President Mario Draghi heavily criticized the outcome of political negotiations reached by EU policy makers this month, saying the powers the ECB would gain are too narrowly focused.

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Russian steel and coal producer Mechel said on Thursday its 2018 core earnings fell 7 percent versus the previous year, with lower sales in the mining division only partly offset by higher coal prices, Reuters reported. Mechel, controlled by businessman Igor Zyuzin, said its 2018 earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) were at 75.67 billion roubles ($1.2 billion), down from 81.11 billion in 2017. Mechel, at one point on the brink of bankruptcy, has been in restructuring talks with its lenders for several years.

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Sweden's Skanska does not expect to hit an operating margin target for its construction business this year or next, sending its shares down nearly 3 percent on Wednesday, the International New York Times reported on a Reuters story. The Nordic region's biggest building firm, which is also one of the largest in the United States, is restructuring its construction division due to weak profitability and project writedowns, mainly in Poland and the United States.

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The creditors of UK restaurant chains Giraffe and Ed’s Easy Diner have approved proposals to shut 27 restaurants and renegotiate leases for at least 13 others, the Financial Times reported. More than three quarters of the restaurant’s creditors voted to approve the plan — known as a company voluntary arrangement — which will see nearly a third of the two chain’s 70 restaurants close, putting 340 employees out of work. Sites include prime locations in Manchester, London and Glasgow. Franchised restaurants, of which there are 17, are not affected by the CVA.

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