Europe

Bonds held by the European Central Bank could become unlikely collateral damage in a battle between Spain’s largest bank and a Russian billionaire over an almost-insolvent retailer, Bloomberg News reported. The ECB is among bondholders that may be forced to take losses as a condition for Banco Santander SA to let Mikhail Fridman’s LetterOne investment fund recapitalize Distribudora Internacional de Alimentacion SA. The Bank of Spain bought DIA’s notes in 2016 as part of the ECB’s corporate bond purchase program.

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There’s a sliver of cash slipping quietly into financings for European buyouts. It’s equity but it’s dressed a bit like debt, and it comes from the opaque world of private credit, Bloomberg News reported. So-called ‘preferred equity’ is increasingly filling the funding gap when private equity firms stretch to pay a high price for a company and can’t make the sums add up. Where the combination of traditional debt and their own money won’t reach far enough to meet the acquisition price, sponsors need another source of funding. One option is to turn to providers of private credit.

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Greece’s central bank governor has warned that a package of pre-electoral handouts due to take effect next week could derail the country’s budget target agreed with its bailout creditors, the Financial Times reported. Yannis Stournaras’s warning came as parliament on Wednesday approved hastily prepared measures that the leftwing Syriza government hopes will boost its popularity ahead of EU parliament elections on May 26. The package of cuts in value added tax and a pension bonus would cost around €1bn, according to the finance ministry.

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Thomas Cook Group Plc’s crisis deepened as the debt-laden travel group warned of another tough summer and said it will get a 300 million-pound ($385 million) rescue loan only if it makes progress with the sale of its airline, Bloomberg News reported. The stock fell to the lowest since 2012 Thursday and the bonds hit a record low after the world’s second-biggest tour operator posted a 1.1 billion-pound writedown at a U.K. arm hurt by the Brexit saga.

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The Commercial Court of Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area has postponed a bankruptcy case against UTair airline until June 11, according to court records. In April, the air carrier said that it had cleared off a debt to the Financial Company Flash Light Capital, one of the applicants seeking bankruptcy of UTair, RAPSI recorded. In March, the court consolidated four bankruptcy petitions filed by the Financial Company Flash Light Capital, Hydropromenergostroy, Inter and Yugan-Union card companies against the airline into a single case.

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Industrial production in the eurozone fell for the second straight month in March, casting doubt on the sustainability of the economy’s first-quarter pickup, The Wall Street Journal reported. Figures released in late April showed economic growth in the currency area picked up in the three months through March from the three months through December 2018, in line with signs of resilience from other parts of the global economy.

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Expectations for Germany’s medium-term economic development worsened in May, surprising analysts who had expected an improved positive reading, as doubts rose over the economy’s resilience amid challenging global politics, the Financial Times reported. The Zew indicator of economic sentiment fell to minus 2.1 points this month, down from 3.1 in the previous month and 7.1 points off analysts' expectations of 5.0 for the month. The indicator’s long-term average is 22.1 points.

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Landsec, the UK’s largest listed property company by assets, saw the value of its portfolio shed more than half a billion pounds in the year to March as a crisis in the retail sector took its toll, the Financial Times reported. The company, whose holdings include a stake in the Bluewater Shopping Centre in Kent, said its assets declined in value by £557m to £13.8bn, led by a 15.5 per cent drop in the value of its retail parks and an 11.7 per cent fall for its shopping centres. The value of the group’s assets had slid by £91m in the previous year. The decline in retail, which makes up

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British Steel has asked the government for tens of millions of pounds in emergency funding as the UK’s second-largest steel producer battles to avoid a collapse that would lead to thousands of job losses, the Financial Times reported. The company blamed uncertainty caused by Brexit as it confirmed it was in talks with ministers about “a package of additional support”, which one person briefed on the discussions said was for £70m-£80m.

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Sales slid and losses continued at Spain’s DIA in the first three months of the year, the supermarket chain said on Tuesday, as investors awaited the next step in a takeover bid by Russian tycoon Mikhail Fridman’s investment fund, Reuters reported. Squeezed by tough competition from domestic and foreign rivals who have invested heavily in their stores, DIA has failed to stem a haemorrhage of market share it built up by discounting during a prolonged recession.

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