Europe

The High Court has approved a Personal Insolvency Arrangement (PIA) allowing a man to write down almost all of his €60 million debts, The Irish Times reported…Mr Justice Mark Sanfey approved a PIA in respect of Enda Patrick Whelan of College Grove, Ennis, Co Clare. Mr Whelan’s creditors include National Asset Loan Management (NALM), a Nama company, which was owed some €56.4 million arising out of personal guarantees he had given in respect of four companies owned by his family.

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Swedish oil refiner Nynas, which is owned by Venezuela’s state-run PDVSA and Finland’s Neste Oil, said on Tuesday it planned to reorganize its business in an attempt to disentangle itself from U.S. sanctions imposed on Venezuela, Reuters reported. Nynas said the proposed changes to its ownership structure, backed by both PDVSA and Neste Oil, were filed with the United States’ Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) on January 17.

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Shares in two of France’s biggest retailers fell sharply on Friday, as public sector strikes that have caused gridlock in Paris and other major cities weighed on earnings over the festive season, the Financial Times reported. Sprawling supermarket group Casino fell more than 10 per cent in early trading, leaving it on track for its worst day since 2015, while electronics retailer Fnac Darty fell 11 per cent.

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Struggling British regional airline Flybe is in talks with the government about a loan on commercial terms which would not represent a state bailout, the BBC reported on Friday, Reuters reported. British Airways and Ryanair have opposed government-backed support for Flybe, saying it prevents a level playing field and breaches state aid rules, although the details of the plan have not been made public. The government has said that its support for Flybe, which provides links between many regional UK and European airports, does not breach EU rules on state aid.

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British department store retailer Beales has collapsed into administration, a form of creditor protection, putting 1,052 jobs at risk, administrator KPMG said on Monday, Reuters reported. The 139-year old retailer operates 23 department stores in market towns across Britain, selling furniture, fashion, toys and cosmetics.

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Recruiter Hays has warned it expects profits to slip in the first half of this year, as economic uncertainty across several key markets disrupts its business, the Financial Times reported. Hays highlighted strikes in France, the slowdown in the German economy, political uncertainty in the UK and the still-raging Australian bushfires as factors behind a “marked” slowdown in fee growth in December, in a trading update on Thursday. Together, these countries account for 45 per cent of the recruiter’s fees.

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Condor, the airline that used to belong to Thomas Cook, has attracted interest from buyout groups Apollo and Greybull as well as Polish carrier LOT, which are expected to submit final bids next week, a person close to the matter said, Reuters reported. Each of the bidders could tie up with some of Germany’s leading tour operators in a potential deal to buy Condor, the person said on Thursday. Condor and Apollo declined to comment, while Greybull and LOT were not immediately available for comment.

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The agency set up five years ago to help councils increase their sources of funding by raising cheaper debt is set for its first issuance, paving the way for what cash-strapped local authorities hope will become a thriving municipal bond market in the UK, the Financial Times reported. The move by the UK Municipal Bonds Agency comes three months after the government sharply raised the interest rate on its own local authority loans — via the Public Works Loan Board (PWLB) — inspiring councils to look elsewhere for new funding streams.

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A Deutsche Bank-led consortium’s efforts to buy out the debt of a power plant operator in eastern India have advanced, after no rival bidder emerged, Bloomberg News reported. The struggling utility is Jindal India Thermal Power Ltd., one of a string of power plants being put up for sale by banks stuck with their defaulting debt. The sector has been hit hard by oversupply in recent years, a consequence of a costly push to bridge India’s once chronic power deficit and expand reach to under-supplied rural areas. Power generators form a significant chunk of India’s $130 billion bad loan pile.

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A Spanish magistrate has launched a criminal investigation into suspected account-fiddling at retailer Dia under its previous management, before Russian oligarch Mikhail Fridman took over the near-insolvent company last year, Reuters reported. Magistrate Alejandro Abascal said in court documents seen by Reuters that he was looking into whether the company’s management, including then-CEO Ricardo Curras, manipulated Dia’s pre-tax earnings data in 2017 to make it falsely appear the company had reached financial targets.

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