Europe

A dramatic increase in defaults during the next year due to the coronavirus will create a big opportunity for distressed debt investors, according to the world’s biggest publicly listed hedge fund firm, Bloomberg News reported. Money managers at Man Group Plc are intrigued by what they say could be the largest global distressed credit cycle in a generation. It all happened in just a month as the public health crisis rippled through economies all over the world, prompting a sell-off in sovereign and corporate bonds.

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Covid – 19 hits the economy hard. Shops are closed, production is suspended in many companies. The concerns of entrepreneurs are great, many are afraid of bankruptcy in the corona crisis, the Bandera County Courier reported. The federal government wants to prevent the worst with loans and grants. But even if Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier (CDU) promised quick help on Wednesday, it may take time for the money to reach the companies. Many companies would have to file for bankruptcy because they are no longer solvent – even though rescue is approaching.

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British pub chain JD Wetherspoon has suspended payments to its suppliers in the Republic until its pubs reopen after the coronavirus crisis, The Irish Times reported. The company confirmed to The Irish Times that, in line with its UK policy, it has sought a moratorium on payments until its outlets reopen. In an e-mail first reported by UK sustainability website Footprint, the company wrote: “We are asking for a moratorium on payments until the pubs reopen, at which point we intend to clear outstanding payments within a short timeframe.

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Aer Lingus is laying off more than 60 contract workers who argue they qualify for Government payments to businesses that keep staff in jobs during the coronavirus crisis, The Irish Times reported. The airline told staff last week that it was cutting pay by 50 per cent in an effort to see the company through the coronavirus pandemic that has grounded flights across Europe and the United States and brought its industry to a standstill.

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As lockdowns shutter stores and keep consumers cooped up at home, there will be many losers from the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus. But there will also be a few winners, Bloomberg News reported in a commentary. Casino Guichard Perrachon SA, the French supermarket operator that’s been a target for short-selling hedge funds, is emerging as a beneficiary, in line with other grocers seeing a frantic stockpiling of food on both sides of the Atlantic. While Casino’s complex financial structure has long been a source of consternation, there are some jewels in its highly leveraged crown.

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The U.K. government’s rescue plan for small and medium sized companies may be only three days old, but there’s growing concern it won’t be able to stave off a wave of bankruptcies in the world’s fifth-largest economy, Bloomberg News reported. On Wednesday, a chorus of voices ranging from lawmakers to small business trade groups said the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, or CBILS, is too reliant on commercial banks and their traditional underwriting methods to rapidly deliver cash to desperate companies.

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France, Italy and Spain and six other euro area governments have called for the issuance of joint European debt to finance the fight against coronavirus, setting up a clash with capitals including Berlin that believe the move is premature, the Financial Times reported. In a joint letter to European Council president Charles Michel, leaders from the nine countries said the EU needed “to work on a common debt instrument issued by a European institution to raise funds on the market on the same basis and to the benefits of all member states”.

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The administrators of a shipbuilding company bought by the Scottish government are owed £1.2 million, The Times reported. A report by Deloitte shows the costs charged for its staff working on the insolvency of Ferguson Marine Engineering between August and February. Ferguson went into administration in the summer after a long dispute between it and Caledonian Maritime Assets over a £97 million contract to build two new ferries for the islands.

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The IoD is calling for emergency insolvency measures to prevent widespread company collapses, Business News Wales reported. Under current laws, the board of directors has a strict duty to cease trading if the company is facing insolvency, and may face personal financial or legal liabilities at a later date if they seek finance instead of doing so. The IoD therefore calls on the Government to relax existing insolvency obligations – including a moratorium on the current offence of wrongful trading.

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UK Eyes Insolvency Law Reforms

The UK government is eyeing urgent changes to insolvency laws to prevent companies unable to meet debts due to the impact of coronavirus from being forced to file for bankruptcy, the Financial Times reported. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy canvassed insolvency and restructuring experts this week on a possible suspension of wrongful trading laws and new measures to protect retail and hospitality groups forced to stop trading because of the government’s nationwide lockdown, according to two people familiar with the matter.

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