Europe

More businesses and individuals across Britain were declared insolvent last month than earlier in 2021 though levels remained mostly below those of a year ago as government support muted the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Reuters reported. Britain’s economy shrank by almost 10% last year and millions of people have been unable to work due to lockdown restrictions, but state loan guarantees and wage subsidies have kept most companies and households financially afloat for now. Government figures on Thursday showed 992 companies in England and Wales were declared insolvent in March.
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The sticky issue of affordable housing moved up Germany’s political agenda after the country’s top court overturned Berlin’s controversial rent freeze, Bloomberg News reported. The decision on Thursday by the Federal Constitutional Court to topple the aggressive clampdown on rents exposes thousands of voters to higher living expenses and highlights the housing squeeze in German cities. “The ruling is bitter, hitting tenants in 1.5 million Berlin flats hard,” said Lukas Siebenkotten, president of Germany’s tenant association.
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The head of the U.K. watchdog scrutinizing politicians and top civil servants taking up private sector jobs called for urgent reform, warning there are no “boundaries at all” to prevent conflicts of interest, Bloomberg News reported. Eric Pickles, chairman of the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments, was responding in a parliamentary hearing Tuesday to the revelation that Bill Crothers -- then the government’s chief commercial officer -- was allowed to work for the now insolvent Greensill Capital while still in post in 2015.
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The Biden administration on Thursday announced tough new sanctions on Russia and formally blamed the country’s premier intelligence agency for the sophisticated hacking operation that breached American government agencies and the nation’s largest companies, the New York Times reported. In the broadest effort yet by President Biden to give more teeth to financial sanctions — which in recent years have failed to deter Russian activity — the actions are aimed at choking off lending to the Russian government. In an executive order, Mr.
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Norwegian Air now aims to raise up to 6 billion crowns ($711 million) in fresh capital, up from a planned 4.5 billion, to bolster its resources before emerging from bankruptcy protection next month as the pandemic continues to curb travel, Reuters reported. Financed largely by debt, Norwegian Air grew rapidly, serving routes across Europe and flying to North and South America, Southeast Asia and the Middle East before the COVID-19 pandemic plunged the airline into crisis.
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Ryanair on Wednesday had another setback in its fight against state aid for rival airlines after Europe’s second-highest court again backed EU competition regulators’ approval of support for SAS and Finnair, Reuters reported. Europe’s biggest budget airline has filed 16 lawsuits against the European Commission for allowing state aid to individual airlines such as Lufthansa, KLM, Austrian Airlines and TAP, as well as national schemes that mainly benefit flag carriers.
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Leaders from Britain’s aviation industry joined forces Wednesday to urge the British government to ensure that popular European destinations face the least onerous coronavirus travel restrictions when holidays are allowed again, the Associated Press reported. Under the government’s new traffic light system for England, travel to countries in the lowest green category could be opened up to quarantine-free travel from May 17. Arrivals would be required to take a pre-departure test as well as the gold standard PCR test on or before day two of their return to England.
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The European Union set out its blueprint to raise nearly $1 trillion of debt over five years as it seeks to fund its recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, Bloomberg News reported. The bloc is aiming to issue the first debt under its NextGenerationEU stimulus as early as July and will use a “state of the art” platform to begin selling bonds and bills via a network of primary bank dealers by September, according to the bloc’s executive branch.
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French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Wednesday he would make proposals to restructure the debts of companies struggling with loans taken on during the coronavirus crisis, Reuters reported. Many French companies are emerging from the pandemic with severely strained balance sheets after they borrowed massively under a state-guaranteed loan programme designed to help them through the crisis. While the programme helped depress bankruptcies last year to record low levels, economists expect a surge in filings as various state support schemes are wound down.
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Switzerland’s top financial regulator said the collapse of Archegos Capital Management LP will have consequences for how banks deal with risk as one of the country’s biggest lenders counts its losses from exposure to the investment firm, Bloomberg News reported. “This will be meticulously examined and there will be lessons, maybe for regulators, maybe for the banks who were involved, maybe for supervisors,” Mark Branson, the head of Swiss regulator Finma, said Wednesday in Berlin.
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