Europe

Loss-making Norwegian Air has appointed Jacob Schram as chief executive to take charge of the budget carrier’s restructuring as it struggles with a low-cost, long-haul model in an overcrowded industry, Reuters reported. Schram, who does not have a background in aviation, joins Norwegian from management consulting company McKinsey and was previously a top executive in the petrol retail industry, Norwegian’s board said on Wednesday.

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Brussels has warned France and Italy that they are running stubbornly high levels of public debt, meaning their future budgets risk breaching EU rules and alarming investors, the Financial Times reported. The European Commission on Wednesday published its opinion on the 2020 draft spending plans of all eurozone member states.

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Italy’s fractious government may try to delay an agreed-upon plan to overhaul Europe’s bailout fund, throwing efforts to shore up the institutional set-up of the euro area into disarray, Bloomberg News reported. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, under pressure from one of his government’s coalition partners, the Five Star Movement, may ask European Union leaders to postpone a final sign-off on the reform at a December 12-13 summit, according to an official familiar with the matter.

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The companies involved in trying to save Alitalia SpA got cold feet before a crucial deadline, throwing the mess back into the government’s hands. Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane SpA, the railway operator leading the effort to find a solution, said Wednesday that conditions aren’t in place to form a consortium meant to save the national flag carrier from liquidation, Bloomberg News reported. This follows a similar statement Tuesday by the Benetton family’s Atlantia SpA. A third potential partner, Deutsche Lufthansa AG, isn’t ready to commit equity, FS Italiane said.

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Ukraine is finalising changes to legislation on bank insolvency in consultation with the International Monetary Fund as part of efforts by Kiev to secure a new loan programme, a senior state official told Reuters. Ukraine wants an IMF deal worth around $5 billion-6 billion over three years to support its economy and signal to investors that the new government of President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is committed to reform, Reuters reported.

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Whether Brexit purists or radical socialists win Britain’s election next month, a deluge of fresh debt is set to bloat the country’s 1.6 trillion pound ($2.1 trillion) government bond pile, Reuters reported. But the permutations around the Dec. 12 election - and the implications for Brexit - make it tough for holders of British government debt to predict just what the borrowing bonanza will mean for them. In 2010, Bill Gross - then cast as “king of the bond market” - warned that British government bonds were “resting on a bed of nitroglycerine” because of Britain’s large budget deficit.

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Proposals to reform the euro zone’s bailout fund are creating a political storm in Italy, where parties and institutions are battling over whether Rome should try to block the reform at the EU level, Reuters reported. A draft of the reform was agreed by euro zone finance ministers in June and is due to be finalised by leaders next month, but senior Italian officials, including its central bank chief, have warned some measures are financially dangerous.

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Alpha Bank on Tuesday reported lower third-quarter profits after higher bad debt provisions and said it would launch a big securitisation of soured loans to clean up its balance sheet, Reuters reported. Alpha, 11% owned by the country’s bank rescue fund HFSF, reported net profit from continuing operations of 4.8 million euros after net earnings of 59.4 million euros in the second quarter. Provisions for bad debt rose 6.3% quarter-on-quarter to 261.5 million euros.

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A co-operative bank has become the first German lender to pass on the cost of negative interest rates to new retail customers with small deposits, in the latest sign of how the European Central Bank’s policy is upending the country’s banking sector, the Financial Times reported. Volksbank Fürstenfeldbruck, which is located 30km west of Munich and has just €1.8bn in assets, said that it will collect a “depositary charge” of -0.5 per cent on instant access savings accounts with deposits of €1 and above.

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Italy’s Central Bank’s governor, Ignazio Visco, said on Friday that he favours reforming the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) but without triggering market panic, New Europe reported. The euro zone’s bailout fund has been designed as a lender of last resort for the 19-member Eurozone. However, the Italian government fears that widening the scope of the ESM’s mandate to include debt restructuring could trigger a sudden rise of sovereign rates rise for the southern periphery.

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