Europe

German prosecutors suspect Wirecard AG extended large loans to partner companies before its implosion in June, at a time when the payments company was already facing media reports alleging accounting fraud, Bloomberg News reported. The prosecutors surmise the loans by the disgraced German firm may have been unsecured and may have been made to partner companies in Dubai, Singapore and the Philippines, a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified discussing the private information said.

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The first Metro Bank branch opened 10 years ago with the aim of making UK banking more like the US. A decade on, the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the gulf that still remains between the two, the Financial Times reported. Metro may have succeeded in introducing an American-style emphasis on customer service. But investors — and regulators — had also hoped to replicate the competitive lending market that helped the US economy recover when the biggest banks were reluctant to offer loans after the 2008 financial crisis.

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More economic upheaval is on the horizon in Europe as plans to end the unprecedented support for workers during the coronavirus pandemic threaten to tip millions of households into a debt trap, Bloomberg News reported. Organizations that help individuals sort out their financial problems are warning of a sharp increase in the number of families burdened by bills they can’t pay. Even in savings-rich nations such as Germany and Austria, citizens are starting to worry.

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About a third of jobs at the Evening Standard are to be eliminated in the most far-reaching cost cuts at any large UK publisher since the pandemic upended the newspaper business, according to people briefed on the plan, the Financial Times reported. Staff at the free commuter newspaper were told on Friday morning of management proposals to cut 115 jobs to help save the company, which is owned by Evgeny Lebedev, the Russia-born newspaper proprietor nominated for a peerage last week. The restructuring plan for the London-based title, which has long faced financial difficulties and repo

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The AA, the British roadside recovery group whose adverts once said it “gets someone out of trouble every eight seconds”, is in talks about a rescue of its own, the Financial Times reported. Six years after it was brought to the public markets with levels of debt investors would normally deem too risky, the juicy returns hoped for by management and new shareholders have failed to materialise. As the coronavirus pandemic has hit earnings, and repayment deadlines edge into view, the company is finally attempting to bring its more than £2.6bn of debt under control.

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ING, the Netherlands’ largest bank, has become the latest major European lender to report a rising impact from coronavirus-induced loan defaults, driving its second-quarter profits down 79 per cent, the Financial Times reported. The Amsterdam-based lender, which runs retail banks in more than a dozen countries, set aside an additional €1.3bn to deal with expected future defaults, following on from a €661m provision in the first quarter.

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Deutsche Lufthansa AG warned that compulsory dismissals are likely in Germany amid slow progress in talks with unions, stiffening its tone as it braces for years of reduced demand, Bloomberg News reported. Europe’s biggest airline posted an adjusted operating loss of 1.7 billion euros ($2 billion) in the second quarter -- its biggest ever -- wrapping up a dismal set of results for carriers in the region after the coronavirus grounded virtually all passenger flights.

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Allied Irish Banks has taken a €1.2bn charge to cover coronavirus loan losses as the country’s largest lender by market capitalisation faces “severe and rapid deterioration” in economic conditions due the pandemic, the Financial Times reported. AIB said the charge, higher than analysts had anticipated, would represent the “significant majority” of full-year loan losses, as it forecast declining interest and fee income this year. Colin Hunt, chief executive, said the bank had adopted a “very conservative and prudent approach” to provisioning in the first half.

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Wirecard AG’s spectacular collapse is leaving a gaping hole in the income statements of its European banks, Bloomberg News reported. While only three of the biggest lenders to the German payments company have reported earnings so far, all wrote down virtually their entire exposure. Commerzbank AG and ING Groep NV each took a hit of about 175 million euros ($207 million), according to people familiar with the matter, more than half of their profit for the second quarter. Credit Agricole SA suffered a loss of about 110 million euros.

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Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. faces a crunch vote in less than three weeks to determine whether a hard-won 1.2 billion-pound ($1.6 billion) rescue goes ahead or if the airline is headed for collapse, Bloomberg News reported. Meetings of four creditor groups will be held on Aug. 25 after the company began a legal process in the U.K. to stop any holdouts from blocking the package. Virgin told a London court Tuesday that it will fold next month if the financing plan fails. It filed an ancillary petition for Chapter 15 bankruptcy protection in the U.S.

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