Europe

A Chinese conglomerate’s rescue plan for Britain’s second-biggest steelmaker has been met by doubts from unions and industry insiders who question the buyer’s motives and business logic, the Financial Times reported. Jingye Group, a privately owned Chinese group whose interests span hotels, property, tourism and chemicals alongside steelmaking, agreed to buy British Steel from the UK’s Insolvency Service.

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New Look is still suffering from falling sales more than a year after reaching agreement on a restructuring of its store estate, adding to fears about the health of the UK high street as the election campaign gets under way, the Financial Times reported. In the half year to September 28 the fashion retailer said same-store sales were down 7.4 per cent in the UK and Ireland, with a strong summer more than cancelled out by a poor September.

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Trips and holidays by Thomas Cook Germany with a departure date of Jan. 1, 2020 or later, "cannot be commenced" even if they had already been partially or fully paid for, the tour operator announced on Tuesday, Xinhuanet reported. "We are so sorry that we have to deliver this message to our customers with departure in the new year," said Stefanie Berk, chairwoman of the management board of Thomas Cook Germany. Among others, the tour operators that are affected were Thomas Cook Signature, Thomas Cook Signature Finest Selection, Neckermann Reisen and Oeger Tours.

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A district court in the Latvian capital on Tuesday declared the country's oldest and largest cosmetics company Dzintars insolvent, local media reported. An aide to the judge at Riga City Pardaugava District Court who ruled on the financially ailing company's insolvency said that Dzintars had failed to provide proof that it had met its obligations to creditors, Xinhuanet reported.

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Even in a record-breaking year for global bond markets, Greece stands out. As recently as 2012, investors decided the country’s debt load had spiralled out of control and refused to lend to Athens at any cost, the Financial Times reported. Now, after a rally that has bewildered many observers, investors pay Greece to borrow on short-term debt. Ten-year bond yields trade at 1.2 per cent — well below the equivalent borrowing cost for the US government.

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PizzaExpress bondholders have warned the restaurant chain that its future is at risk, urging its Chinese owners to work with them on a financial restructuring, the Financial Times reported. A group of investors who own almost 70 per cent of the £465m of senior secured bonds told the board they were willing to provide extra money to secure the business, said two people with familiar with the situation.Their letter asked management to move quickly to restructure the group’s debt-laden balance sheet. Analysts from S&P on Monday said that a “distressed exchange or a debt restructurin

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British nursery retailer Mamas & Papas Retail was sold to private equity firm Bluegem Capital Partners, administrator Deloitte said on Friday, leading to the shutdown of six loss-making stores and 73 job losses, Reuters reported. The news comes three days after baby products retailer Mothercare said it would shut all its British stores. Mamas & Papas sells pushchairs, car seats, furniture, clothing and other nursery products.

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British budget airlines easyJet and Jet2.com have bought the take-off and landing slots of failed travel company Thomas Cook at London Gatwick and Manchester airports, respectively, Reuters reported. Thomas Cook’s UK business and airline went into immediate insolvency when the company collapsed in September, and a court appointed an official receiver to liquidate its assets.

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Greece has lost the dubious distinction of being the riskiest government borrower in the eurozone after its bond yields dipped below Italy’s for the first time since 2008, the Financial Times reported. Greek bonds have staged a powerful rally this year as investors hungry for yields have snapped up debt from former euro area crisis spots — a trend that gained further momentum after Standard & Poor’s upgraded Athens’ credit rating to BB- late last month.

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United Group, the private-equity backed cable company, has struck a €1.2bn deal to acquire Bulgaria’s former state owned telecoms operator Vivacom, the Financial Times reported. The sale is one of the largest deals struck by United, owned by BC Partners, to consolidate the Balkan media and communications industry. It agreed to buy Tele2 Croatia for €220m in May and has so far rolled up about 100 Balkan businesses. It comes in spite of a long-running ownership dispute around Vivacom, which is still rumbling through the courts.

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