Europe

Wirecard’s administrator said today that more than 100 investors have expressed interest in buying the collapsed German payments firm’s core business and holdings, Reuters reported. The firm filed for insolvency last month owing creditors 4 billion euros ($4.5 billion) after disclosing a 1.9 billion euro hole in its accounts that its auditor EY said was the result of a sophisticated global fraud. “The aim is to find timely investor solutions in the interest of creditors, employees and customers,” administrator Michael Jaffe said in a statement after a creditors meeting.

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Romania’s low-cost airline, Blue Air, has been given a new lease of life after Bucharest’s municipal court approved its request to enter a form of bankruptcy protection, SimpleFlying.com reported. The procedure allows the carrier to continue operations and generate revenue for the next 18 months without having to pay back creditors or refund passengers. The agreement between the airline and its creditors will see the airline repay loans in full at a later date. Like many European Airlines, Blue Air has struggled massively to cope with the financial impact of COVID-19.

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Italy plans to dramatically expand public investment, focusing on boosting growth rather than reining in debt as the government plots its way out of the worst recession in a century, Bloomberg News reported. State investment will rise above 3 percent of gross domestic product over the next four years from 2.3 percent in 2019, according to an overnight statement from Giuseppe Conte’s cabinet following a minsters’ meeting.

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The Italian government approved a package of measures today aimed at cutting the complicated red tape that has long been blamed for crimping growth in the euro zone’s third-largest economy, Reuters reported. The “simplification decree,” approved after weeks of fraught political negotiation, has been touted by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte as “the mother of all reforms” to help relaunch an economy brought to its knees by the coronavirus. It was approved in a preliminary version at a late night cabinet meeting, leaving some final details still to be hammered out.

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The coronavirus will hit Europe with a deeper recession than anticipated, with Ireland’s economy set to shrink 8.5 per cent this year,  according to a new forecast by the European Commission, the <em>Irish Times</em> reported. “The economic impact of the lockdown is more severe than we initially expected. We continue to navigate in stormy waters and face many risks, including another major wave of infections,” commission executive vice president Valdis Dombrovskis said.

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A study by Institute for Fiscal Studies warned that thirteen universities, or colleges, in the U.K. are at risk of going bankrupt as the coronavirus pandemic hits their finances and challenges the entire sector, CNBC.com reported. Social distancing measures, travel restrictions and lockdowns have tested the ability of universities to survive without students. In the wake of the pandemic, many moved their teaching online and some do not have plans to return to their facilities until the summer of 2021. There’s also uncertainty as to whether non-U.K.

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German industrial orders rebounded moderately in May and a fifth of firms in Europe’s biggest economy said in a survey published today that they feared insolvency, adding to expectations of a slow and painful recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, Reuters reported. Germany has withstood the pandemic better than other big European countries, recording fewer COVID-19 deaths, and its economy has been relatively resilient during more than six weeks of lockdown owing to generous stimulus packages and a decision to keep open factories and construction sites.

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Britain has joined forces with India’s Bharti Global to buy the collapsed satellite operator OneWeb, with the two sides pledging $1 billion between them to develop a constellation that could boost broadband and other services, Reuters reported. Under the deal announced on Friday, Britain will invest $500 million and hold a stake of around 45 percent in OneWeb while Bharti will invest the same amount and provide commercial and operational leadership.

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The Portuguese government agreed to buy David Neeleman’s indirect stake in TAP SGPS SA as part of a plan to provide a rescue loan to save the airline, Bloomberg News reported. “This allows us to unblock the loan and avoid the bankruptcy of a company that’s essential for the country,” Finance Minister Joao Leao said at a press conference in Lisbon on Thursday night. Like other carriers, TAP had to halt most of its operations due to the coronavirus outbreak.

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Britain’s Casual Dining Group (CDG), the operator of restaurant chains Cafe Rouge, Bella Italia and Las Iguanas, said on Thursday it had appointed administrators and would permanently close 91 sites immediately with the loss of 1,909 jobs, Reuters reported. The company, which had employed nearly 6,000 people across 250 sites, said the move would enable it to negotiate with landlords ahead of an expected sale of the business.

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