Europe

The head of Germany’s accounting watchdog, under fire for failing to spot wrongdoing ahead of the collapse of the payments company Wirecard, is stepping down, Reuters reported. The agency, formally known as the Financial Reporting Enforcement Panel (FREP), said in a statement on Wednesday that President Edgar Ernst is leaving his post at his own wish, effective Dec. 31. Ernst has also come under criticism for potential conflicts of interest because he held seats on supervisory boards of major corporations, including real-estate company Vonovia, retailer Metro and tour operator TUI.
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The U.K. faces significant challenges in shouldering the burden of regulation it had previously outsourced to Brussels, the government has been warned, Politico reported. A new report by the UK in a Changing Europe think tank says that the fresh autonomy provided to the U.K. by the Brexit trade deal will lead to duplication of many of the EU’s rules. But it finds British regulators may not have enough resources to do the job.
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Polish manufacturer of steel foundations for offshore wind farms, ST3 Offshore – which declared bankruptcy in March 2020 – has been put up for sale by the Official Receiver of the company in insolvency, OffshoreWind.biz reported. A tender has been issued for the sale of ST3 Offshore with a reserve price of the company amounting to PLN 234,680,000 net (around EUR 52 million). To participate in the tender procedure, bids (unconditional and written in Polish) should be submitted in two copies until 14:00 on 10 March.
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Britain’s financial regulator on Thursday censured Premier FX, a now defunct company that once operated in Portugal, Spain and Dubai, for “seriously misleading” customers, failing to safeguard their money and for misusing its payment accounts, Reuters reported. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said it would have imposed a substantial fine on the company if it had not already been in liquidation or owed its 136 creditors - most of which are consumers - roughly 9.2 million pounds ($13 million). Premier FX was regulated by the FCA for money transfers.
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Massive Covid-19 bailouts probably kept some “zombie” companies alive when they would normally have gone bust, the European Union’s top antitrust official said on Wednesday, Bloomberg News reported. Regulators usually screen state subsidies to avoid “undesirable effects” such as life support for unprofitable businesses, Olivier Guersent, the head of the European Commission’s competition unit, said at an online conference for the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.
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Rich countries’ governments borrowed $18 trillion from bond markets in 2020—more than ever before—but their borrowing costs hit a record low, due to a big rise in bond purchases by central banks, as well as a lack of concern about public debt levels among private investors, the Wall Street Journal reported. The jump in government bond sales during the first year of the coronavirus pandemic was almost twice that recorded when the global financial crisis struck, according to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development research body.
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Britain will resist “very firmly” any European Union attempts to arm-twist banks into shifting trillions of euros in derivatives clearing from Britain to the bloc after Brexit, Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey said on Wednesday, Reuters reported. Europe’s top banks have been asked by the European Commission to justify why they should not have to shift clearing of euro-denominated derivatives from London to the EU, a document seen by Reuters on Tuesday showed.
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Ferry operator Moby SpA is suing a number of bondholders including Sound Point Capital Management in a New York court, alleging they made unlawful attempts to take control of the firm in a debt dispute, Reuters reported. Moby, which runs routes between the Italian mainland and islands such as Sardinia, says a bondholder group which also includes BlueBay Asset Management, and Cheyne Capital Management, attempted an “egregious tortious interference” to “unlawfully” take control of the company, according to documents filed on February 22. It’s now seeking damages from the funds.
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London-based crypto custody and settlements infrastructure provider Koine has gone into insolvency, CoinDesk.com reported. Koine, whose clients included Bitfinex and brokerage GCEX, was helmed by CEO and chairman Hugh Hughes, the former CEO of Societe Generale Securities. Koine had investment commitments with two parties that were due to provide a total of around £15 million (US$21.2 million) at the end of January, Koine co-founder Phil Mochan told CoinDesk via email. “One of those parties was unable to complete on schedule and so the other party pulled out,” Mochan said.
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Gas-station and convenience-store operator EG Group, owned by British brothers Zuber and Mohsin Issa, is readying another massive debt sale, this time to fund its purchase of the remaining assets of U.K grocer Asda, Bloomberg News reported. EG Group approached investors this week to test appetite for the equivalent of 1.5 billion pounds ($2.1 billion) of high-yield bonds and leveraged loans. The deal, which will be led by Barclays Bank Plc, is expected to launch as soon as this week following EG’s earnings results due Thursday.

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