Europe

A German bank has struck a deal with bankrupt Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. regarding the exercise and liquidation of currency options contracts nominally worth €139 million, Bankruptcy Law360 reported. According to Judge James M. Peck's order Monday in the the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, if Deutsche Zentral-Genossenschaftsbank AG exercises a currency option, the transaction will be deemed liquidated at the current market value.
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Over 100 companies globally have defaulted on their debt this year, affecting $302 billion worth of securities, but that figure could rise as nearly 900 issuers are poised for credit downgrades, Standard & Poor's said on Monday. Of the 108 defaults this year, 86 are from the United States, seven from Europe, five each from Asia and Canada, three from Latin America, and two from Russia. The figure contrasts with 22 defaults in 2007 and 30 in 2006.
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A Belgian appeals court on Friday froze several major deals made by the former Belgian-Dutch bank Fortis NV in October to ward off bankruptcy, Dutch media reported. Dutch national broadcaster NOS said the Brussels Appeals Court reversed earlier decisions upholding the sale of Fortis' operations in the Netherlands to the Dutch state, and Belgian operations to the Belgian state. The deals were not put to shareholders for approval as required under Dutch and Belgian law for transactions involving major operations, and shareholder groups later sued.
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Royal Bank of Scotland, Man Group and Nomura on Monday joined a growing list of financial groups acknowledging exposure to the alleged $50 billion fraud surrounding Wall Street trader Bernard Madoff, Reuters reported. A report in the Financial Times said HSBC Holdings Plc had emerged as one of the largest victims, with potential exposure of about $1 billion. RBS said its potential loss could amount to some 400 million pounds ($595 million), if it assumed that the value of its assets in market-making firm Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC were nil.
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Automotive supplier Tedrive has filed for insolvency for two German units, citing a recent slump in orders, according to the company's insolvency administrator, The Guardian reported. Tedrive was the second industry player to file for insolvency in the region within a week, after German brake pad maker TMD Friction did the same for four German plants. The administrator said Tedrive aimed to restructure its business at the two units. The units make driveshafts and steering systems, and have a total of 1,500 workers.
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The collapse of a US bailout of the three American car giants sparked a new global share battering Friday, Agence France-Presse reported. With Russia officially entering recession, Bank of America and other international companies making more mass layoffs and European production falling faster than expected, the grim data built up around the world. Talks among US senators on salvaging a $14 billion deal fund for Ford Motor Co, General Motors (GM) and Chrysler collapsed late Thursday. GM has hired lawyers for a potential bankruptcy filing.
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Ukrainian lawmakers on Thursday backed severe restrictions on public spending and a government-wide hiring freeze to help the economy survive the global financial turmoil, the Associated Press reported. As the Ukrainian currency hit a new low, parliament gave tentative approval to legislation that would limit spending on renovating government buildings, purchases of automobiles and other public expenses. The law would be the latest in a series of measures to battle the crisis.
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German brake pads maker TMD Friction, which has filed for insolvency for four German plants, has attracted the interest of possible buyers, a spokesman for the company's insolvency administrator said. Among the possible buyers are both industry-related companies and financial investors, Reuters reported. A spokesman said the company aims to keep the group intact in a possible sale. The Leverkusen-based group employs around 4,500 staff in 11 countries and generated 2007 sales of 690 million euros ($892.4 million). It has 2,000 staff in Germany alone.
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A Latvian government proposal to radically restructure the country's ailing economy is credible and ambitious, the Swedish government said Wednesday on behalf of a group of Nordic and Baltic countries, Agence France-Presse reported. "The fiscal restructuring programme is...one of the most credible restructuring programmes we've seen. It's very ambitious," Swedish Finance Minister Anders Borg told reporters in Stockholm, speaking for the eight-nation constituency.
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Landsbanki Islands hf sought bankruptcy protection from its U.S. creditors on Tuesday, the last of Iceland's three largest banks to do so in the last two weeks, Reuters reported. The Reykjavik-based lender filed a Chapter 15 bankruptcy petition with the U.S. bankruptcy court for the Southern District of New York. It said it had more than $1 billion of both assets and liabilities. Iceland's banks had taken on billions of dollars of debt in recent years to fund aggressive overseas expansion.
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