Europe

Norway's government has extended loan guarantees for the country's airlines, including Norwegian Air, by two months until the end of 2020, the Industry Ministry said on Sunday, Reuters reported. Norwegian Air secured a state aid package of 3 billion Norwegian crowns ($330 million) earlier this year after a debt restructuring but said last month it needed to secure more funding to get through the COVID-19 pandemic. The government has changed the terms of the state guarantee scheme, the industry ministry said in a statement, without disclosing specifics.

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Philip Day’s retail empire could be broken up after the tycoon launched a review of high street chains including Peacocks and the Edinburgh Woollen Mill following a number of unsolicited offers, the Financial Times reported. Mr Day, who has made a fortune by buying and restructuring distressed retail businesses, has received interest from potential bidders for all or part of value fashion chain Peacocks and his collection of “heritage brands”, which includes Jaeger, Austin Reed and Jacques Vert.

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Rolls-Royce is in talks with sovereign wealth funds, including Singapore’s GIC, as part of a plan to raise around £2.5bn from investors next month, according to three people with direct knowledge of the matter, the Financial Times reported. The UK aero-engine group is working with bankers at Goldman Sachs on the planned equity raise as it looks to become the latest company to tap stock market investors to repair a balance sheet badly damaged by the pandemic. The group is aiming to launch the equity raise in the first weeks of October, two of these people said.

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Germany would relax insolvency rules under proposals set out on Saturday to help avert a wave of bankruptcies in Europe’s biggest economy, provided companies hit by the coronavirus crisis have a robust business model, Reuters reported. Keen to avoid bankruptcies and mass layoffs, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government has launched a range of stimulus and relief measures as Germany braces for its biggest slump since World War Two, having shrunk by an unprecedented 9.7% in the second quarter.

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Caixabank has agreed to buy Bankia for 4.3 billion euros ($5.1 billion) in an all-share deal that creates Spain’s biggest domestic lender and signals a pick up in mergers among Europe’s banks as they battle the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, Reuters reported. The merger will create the largest domestic bank by assets with a combined market value of more than 16 billion euros ($19 billion), in a deal underpinned by annual cost savings of 770 million euros, the companies said on Friday.

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The European Central Bank has relaxed regulations on eurozone banks, freeing up as much as €73bn of capital in an attempt to boost lending and prevent the economic crisis triggered by the coronavirus pandemic from turning into a credit crunch, the Financial Times reported. The move announced by the ECB on Thursday grants lenders extra capital relief, enabling them to increase their lending to governments, businesses and households. It follows a similar, albeit more generous, move by the US Federal Reserve in April.

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Ferroglobe, the largest western producer of silicon metal, and its creditors have hired financial advisers to speed up a restructuring of the company’s $451 million of debt, two sources familiar with the situation said, Reuters reported. Ferroglobe, 53% owned by Spanish billionaire and former finance minister Juan Miguel Villar Mir, is under pressure as the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbates a slowdown in demand from the automotive industry, the main consumer of silicon metal, in Europe and the United States.

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Banks will need to show borrowers and businesses hit by the coronavirus pandemic further leeway, the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar has said, The Irish Times reported. A payment break for mortgages and business loans for those financially affected by the virus is due to expire at the end of September. Mr Varadkar said on Wednesday that the Government would continue to discuss further forbearance for loans with the country’s main banks.

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A French official has said it might be difficult for Lebanon’s banks to prevent savers losing some of their deposits, according to the minutes of a meeting in which France outlined steps to help the crippled banking industry, Reuters reported. The comments were made during Sept. 10 talks in Paris between senior French officials and a delegation from the Association of Banks in Lebanon (ABL). Reuters reviewed a copy of the minutes, marked confidential.

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The World Bank has piled pressure on commercial lenders to defer debt repayments owed by emerging economies as the impact of the coronavirus pandemic threatens to plunge them into a “lost decade,” the Financial Times reported. The body’s president David Malpass said he was “frustrated” that some countries could cut back spending on health and education to meet debt repayments, creating a long-term drag on their economic prospects.

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