Europe

The German Finance Ministry urged Italian lenders to speed up a reduction of soured loans and make more progress in cutting risk, with the warning coming as the government in Berlin pushes for a merger of the country’s struggling banking titans. “The Italian banking sector has long been faced with various structural problems, including the high level of non-performing loans,” the ministry wrote in responses to lawmakers’ questions published by the Bundestag on Thursday.

Read more

A once-lucrative business within Deutsche Bank AG catering to hedge funds is on its way to becoming yet another casualty of the German lender’s chronic turmoil, Bloomberg News reported. The German firm’s revenue from prime services declined for a third straight year in 2018, while rivals Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. all saw jumps, according to people with knowledge of the business.

Read more

Industrial production in the eurozone showed signs of stabilisation in January across sectors and in most countries, despite a contraction in Germany, the bloc’s biggest economy, the Financial Times reported. Output in the region rose 1.4 per cent from the previous month, rebounding from a decline of 0.9 per cent in December, better than a forecast from analysts in a Reuters poll of 1.0 per cent expansion, Eurostat figures revealed on Wednesday.

Read more

Mozambique is seeking the cancellation of government guarantees on debts run up by state-run security firm Proindicus which helped spark a debt crisis in the country, its prime minister was quoted as saying on Wednesday. Mozambique has a case in London's High Court against investment bank Credit Suisse and a number of other parties linked with the $2 billion (£1.5 billion) worth of loans, which have sparked investigations in the United States and Mozambique, the International New York Times reported on a Reuters story.

Read more

Standard Chartered Plc may wind up losing less on its biggest bad loan in India. Lenders to bankrupt Essar Steel India Ltd. will consider increasing a payout to Standard Chartered to expedite the sale of the troubled Indian mill to ArcelorMittal, according to people with knowledge of the matter, Bloomberg News reported. That could smooth over a sticking point in months of court battles as the world’s largest steelmaker tries to open shop in the South Asian nation. Standard Chartered has been seeking repayment on about 35.6 billion rupees ($513 million) of loans to Essar Steel.

Read more

British baby products retailer Mothercare said on Tuesday it plans to sell its educational toy brand ELC to Teal Brands for £13.5 million (€15.75 million) as it looks to cut debt, sending its shares up 6 per cent, The Irish Times reported. The company’s sales and profit have been hammered by intense competition from supermarket groups and online retailers in its main British market as well as by rising costs. In addition to the sale of Early Learning Centre Ltd (ELC), it will also sell some related assets, Mothercare said. It will, however, retain some ELC inventory to sell later.

Read more

Seán Quinn’s five adult children unknowingly “put their heads in the noose” for a liability of more than €415 million – €83 million each – as a result of guarantees they signed concerning loans made by Anglo Irish Bank to Quinn companies, the High Court has been told, The Irish Times reported. Mr Quinn had gambled with his children’s property and future when companies in his group got €2.34 billion in loans from Anglo during 2007 and 2008 to fund margin calls on contracts for difference (CFD) positions held by Mr Quinn in the bank, Bernard Dunleavy SC said.

Read more

The High Court has granted summary judgment for €1.59 million against a daughter-in-law of well known developer Paddy Kelly over loans primarily related to the purchase of units in a commercial building in Sandyford, Dublin, The Irish Times reported. AIB sought judgment against Joanna Sloan, wife of Simon Kelly, son of Laois-born Paddy Kelly arising from loans advanced in 2007 for the purchase of units in Sandyford Apex Centre and for the release of equity in two of the units there.

Read more

Beleaguered rich-lister Eric Watson will likely remain embroiled in courts for years — and faces the possibility of a tax bill of $200m when penalties are added — after a landmark court decision yesterday saw his businesses ruled to have engaged in $51.5m in tax avoidance, The New Zealand Herald reported. Justice Matthew Palmer said a complex 2002 transaction — involving Cayman Island companies while Watson himself was relocating from New Zealand to the UK for tax purposes — was an avoidance arrangement. The case is one of the largest tax judgments in New Zealand history.

Read more