Europe

German airline Lufthansa on Thursday signed a deal with the Italian government for a 41-percent minority share in the long-struggling ITA Airways, formerly Alitalia, the Associated Press reported. The deal calls for investments of 575 million euros in capital increases, 325 million euros from Lufthansa and the rest from the Italian Finance Ministry, providing capital for growth. Lufthansa will also have the option of buying the remaining shares at a later date.

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The German economy was in recession in early 2023 after household spending in Europe's economic engine finally succumbed to the pressure of high inflation, Reuters reported. Gross domestic product fell by 0.3% in the first quarter of the year when adjusted for price and calendar effects, a second estimate from the statistics office showed on Thursday. This follows a decline of 0.5% in the fourth quarter of 2022. A recession is commonly defined as two successive quarters of contraction.

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Most British households, many feeling a cost-of-living squeeze, can expect cheaper energy bills from July after regulator Ofgem slashed its price cap to reflect a slump in wholesale costs, Reuters reported. Britain has the joint-highest rate of inflation among the Group of Seven nations along with Italy, and official data this week showed consumer prices rose 8.7% in annual terms in April, slowing from March, but still at elevated levels.

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Investment firm Permira has acquired the majority of Gruppo Florence, in a deal which a source close to the matter said valued the hub of Italian luxury clothing and leather goods manufacturers at more than 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion), Reuters reported. The deal announced on Thursday highlights a trend among private-equity funds, which after running out of big brands to buy, have locked on to the challenges of the luxury industry's supply chain and turned to a "buy and build" strategy.

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UBS on Thursday won unconditional EU antitrust approval to acquire Credit Suisse as part of a government-orchestrated rescue of its Swiss rival, Reuters reported. The European Commission said the deal would not raise competition concerns in Europe, confirming a Reuters story earlier this month. "The combined entity will continue facing significant competitive pressure from a wide range of competitors in all of those markets, including several major global banks as well as specialist providers and strong local players," the EU competition watchdog said in a statement.

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A council has been warned urgent action is needed to avoid bankruptcy over the spiraling cost of special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), BBC News reported. In the last financial year, Bristol City Council spent £94.6m on the sector, £16m more than was initially budgeted. Added to previous overspend, it now has a total deficit of £42.5m with three years to reduce the amount. The council is now working to lower costs despite rising demand in its SEND provision.

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World stocks dropped on Wednesday as U.S. debt ceiling talks dragged on without resolution, stoking a general malaise in markets that saw safe-haven assets such as the dollar hold around recent highs, Reuters reported. But crude oil prices bucked the downtrend and kept rising, after a warning from the Saudi energy minister to speculators that raised the prospect of further OPEC+ output cuts. Negotiators for Democratic President Joe Biden and top congressional Republican Kevin McCarthy met again on Wednesday to end an impasse in talks.

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A higher court in Montenegro on Wednesday scrapped bail of 800,000 euros ($880,640) previously granted to Do Kwon, a cryptocurrency entrepreneur charged in the U.S. with a multibillion-dollar fraud, and his ally pending a trial, Reuters reported. Do Kwon, a South Korean national, is the former CEO of South Korea-based Terraform Labs, the company behind the stablecoin TerraUSD that collapsed in May 2022, roiling cryptocurrency markets.

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Bankrupt rocket company Virgin Orbit is shutting down after selling its facility leases and equipment to a trio of aerospace companies in an auction, the company confirmed on Tuesday, CNBC reported. “As Virgin Orbit embarks on this path, the management and employees would like to extend their heartfelt gratitude to all stakeholders,” the company said in a statement. Spun out of Virgin Galactic  in 2017 by founder Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Orbit reached rarefied air by flying multiple missions.

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Chemicals giant Venator will see a major reorganization of its finances as part of a bid to save the business, Gazette Live reported. The pigments producer, which employs hundreds of people on Teesside, including at its Wynyard headquarters, says it expects to continue paying wages and running normally despite having filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy in the U.S. News of the move follows a rough period for the firm and mounting losses, including net losses of $188m (£151.7) in 2022. Announcing the measures, Venator said it wanted to place itself on a better footing for growth.

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