Europe

Italy, the euro zone’s third largest but most chronically sluggish economy, will soon get a windfall that could transform its fortunes - not necessarily for the better, Reuters reported. As the biggest beneficiary of the European Union’s 750 billion euro ($890 billion) Recovery Fund, Rome believes the cash will help it fix entrenched economic problems and close its decades-old growth gap with the rest of the bloc.

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Spain’s economy will struggle to recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic to such an extent that it will still be as much as 6 per cent smaller at the end of 2022 than it was before the crisis hit, according to the Bank of Spain, the Financial Times reported. In a grim set of economic projections released on Wednesday, the central bank highlighted the destructive impact of both the initial coronavirus outbreak and of the resurgence in infection rates following the end of the country’s lockdown in June.

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Global demand for marine fuels is expected to fall by up to 17% due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on world trade, setting the stage for more consolidation among bunker suppliers, an industry executive told a conference on Wednesday, Reuters reported. Banks scaled back on their commodities trade finance after the coronavirus crisis led to defaults by some trading houses and exposed a series of frauds, leaving small and medium sized firms most exposed.

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A group of Seadrill’s creditors have agreed to let the offshore drilling rig operator suspend interest payments this month as part of an ongoing effort to restructure its $7.3 billion debt, the Oslo-listed company said on Wednesday, Reuters reported. Seadrill, which has so far failed to convince its 43 bank lenders to permanently adjust the terms of its loans, reiterated earlier warnings that a debt restructuring could leave current shareholders with minimal or no ownership at all.

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Pub lobbyists should find out today if their campaign to win Government agreement for a reopening of so-called wet pubs has been successful, The Irish Times reported. Representatives of the wider hospitality sector, meanwhile, have a fine line to walk in the run-up to the upcoming budget between calling for State help and managing the message that many businesses may go bust in the depths of winter. There is widespread belief in the hospitality trade that early January will herald a wave of insolvencies in the sector.

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Airport ground services and air-cargo handler Swissport International AG has reached a deal on a balance-sheet restructuring that will preserve its business under pressure from the Covid-19 pandemic, The Wall Street Journal reported. The debt-for-equity swap will lighten the debt side of Swissport’s balance sheet as it contends with  the impact of reduced air travel on its revenues. Ownership of the Zurich-based company will pass from China’s HNA Group Co. Ltd. to a group of mostly U.K-. and U.S.-based investment funds once the restructuring is complete.

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Premier Oil has held talks on restructuring its debt with rival Chrysaor in a move that could pave the way for a tie-up between two of the largest UK oil and gas producers, the Financial Times reported. Premier said on Tuesday it had been talking with third parties including private-equity backed Chrysaor to refinance its debt as an alternative to an agreement reached with a group of creditors last month. While the approach by Chrysaor did not “provide better outcomes for either its shareholders or creditors”, Premier said discussions on a potential transaction continued.

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Urbaser Balfour Beatty (UBB) Waste Essex went into administrative receivership in July after it lost a case brought by Essex County Council over a malfunctioning mechanical biological treatment in Basildon, Materials Recycling World reported. The court had then to decide on what basis Essex could recover legal costs and damages from UBB. The company also requested permission to appeal certain points of the judgment. A council statement said Mr Justice Pepperall had again found in favour of the authority and had refused UBB’s request for permission to appeal.

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Deutsche Bank AG plans to boost lending to commodity traders in the Middle East, even as other banks back away after a spate of defaults in the industry, to help double the size of its regional business, Bloomberg News reported. The German lender, which on Monday appointed Loic Voide and Kees Hoving as co-chief executive officers for the Middle East and Africa, is also targeting bond markets for growth in the region. “In the next five to six years, we would like to double the size of the revenues from what we have today,” Voide said in an interview.

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Consumers have begun to save less and spend more as lockdown measures introduced to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic continue to ease, according to data from Bank of Ireland, The Irish Times reported. The bank’s Savings and Investment Index, which was published on Monday, demonstrates the changing attitudes of Irish consumers as the economy begins to re-open. Compared to the period of full blown lockdown when savings increased significantly, less people are now saving by default.

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