Europe

The U.K.’s biggest business lobby group took the rare step of joining forces with labor unions to warn Theresa May that she’s presiding over a “national emergency” on Brexit, Bloomberg News reported. Avoiding a no-deal split with the European Union is “paramount” and securing an extension to the process is “essential,” Confederation of British Industry Director General Carolyn Fairbairn and Trades Union Congress General Secretary Frances O’Grady said in a letter. The two also requested an “urgent meeting” with the prime minister. “Our country is facing a national emergency,” they wrote.

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Soon, the government of Japan might be the only issuer paying less to borrow than Danish homeowners, Bloomberg News reported. Danes are about to learn whether they can get a 30-year mortgage at a fixed rate of 1 percent. That’s less than the governments of Switzerland and Germany pay their long-term investors. Denmark finances its home loans through the world’s biggest covered-bond market. The securities are coveted as some of the safest around, thanks to the huge cover pools backing the debt.

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Croatia will decide in coming days whether to place troubled shipbuilder Uljanik into bankruptcy or try to restructure the business at a cost to the state of around one billion euros, a top official said on Wednesday. Last month Uljanik, the country’s largest shipbuilder, chose local rival Brodosplit as a strategic partner to restructure its operations, with Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri acting as an adviser in the process, Reuters reported.

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British builder Kier Group on Wednesday reported a 14.5 percent slump in first-half underlying earnings on higher expenses, a day after it hired former Carillion CEO-designate to run the company, Reuters reported. Underlying operating earnings fell to 51.8 million pounds for the six months ended Dec. 31 from 60.6 million pounds, as administrative costs jumped nearly 35 percent to 202 million pounds during the period.

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Less than a year after Greece emerged from a multibillion-euro international bailout, Athens is witnessing an investor boom, the International New York Times reported. Hip new hotels with Acropolis views are dotting the skyline. Construction workers are tearing into dwellings owned by Greeks needing cash and converting them swiftly to short-term rentals, Airbnbs or fancy new homes for foreigners.

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For Irish businesses and for the Government’s Brexit economic planning, the latest events threaten that the uncertainty will just roll on, perhaps into the latter part of next week, just before Brexit is scheduled on March 29th, The Irish Times reported. They also show that the risk of a disruptive no-deal Brexit is not off the table.

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Two former senior executives with the Quinn group are “very reluctant” witnesses in the action by Sean Quinn’s adult children disputing any liability under guarantees for loans of more than €415 million, the High Court has been told, The Irish Times reported. Dara O’Reilly and Liam McCaffrey had left the Quinn group after companies were sold, are now employed by the new owners of Quinn Industrial Holdings and both have been subject to “threats and acts of violence”, their counsel Ross Gorman said.

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The European Union’s top antitrust regulator is facing calls to resign after a “historic” court ruling involving a small Italian lender upended Brussels’ approach to bank rescues and prompted calls for compensation, Reuters reported. In a blow to EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager, EU judges ruled on Tuesday that Italy’s plan for the rescue of Tercas bank five years ago was legal, overturning the Commission’s earlier decision that had forced the recouping of financial aid to the lender.

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Stores are closing daily on the U.K.’s shopping streets in a crisis reminiscent of the U.S. retail apocalypse, and there’s no sign of a bottom, Bloomberg News reported. The latest casualties include Kate Middleton’s fashion favorite L.K. Bennett, cake baker Patisserie Valerie and entertainment retailer HMV, which has collapsed into insolvency twice. Department-store chain Debenhams Plc is shutting dozens of outlets as it fights billionaire Mike Ashley’s bid for management control. Rival House of Fraser is shrinking after being rescued by the tycoon last year.

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Germany’s top economic experts have slashed their growth forecast for 2019 from 1.5 per cent to 0.8 per cent, offering fresh confirmation that Europe’s largest economy is losing momentum, the Financial Times reported. “The period of high growth in the German economy is over for now. But given the strong domestic economy there is no reason to expect a recession,” said Christoph Schmidt, a professor of economy and one of the five members of Germany’s government-appointed council of economic experts.

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