Europe

France added to the growing chorus of lawmakers and executives seeing consolidation as an avenue to revive Europe’s ailing banks, ahead of a key meeting that may jumpstart a plan to create a single market for the industry, Bloomberg News reported. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, speaking in an interview in Paris on Tuesday, said mergers to create “critical-size, global actors” in European finance would be a “good thing.” He backed a call by German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz to complete the project for a banking union that would make such deals easier.

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A plan by the owner of PizzaExpress Ltd. to buy back almost half of the company’s 200 million pounds of unsecured notes faces resistance from at least two groups of bond investors, people familiar with the matter said, Bloomberg News reported. Chinese private equity firm Hony Capital is seeking to purchase as much as 80 million pounds ($103 million) of the U.K. chain’s bonds in a move that may precede talks for a potential debt restructuring.

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A Chinese conglomerate’s rescue plan for Britain’s second-biggest steelmaker has been met by doubts from unions and industry insiders who question the buyer’s motives and business logic, the Financial Times reported. Jingye Group, a privately owned Chinese group whose interests span hotels, property, tourism and chemicals alongside steelmaking, agreed to buy British Steel from the UK’s Insolvency Service.

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New Look is still suffering from falling sales more than a year after reaching agreement on a restructuring of its store estate, adding to fears about the health of the UK high street as the election campaign gets under way, the Financial Times reported. In the half year to September 28 the fashion retailer said same-store sales were down 7.4 per cent in the UK and Ireland, with a strong summer more than cancelled out by a poor September.

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Trips and holidays by Thomas Cook Germany with a departure date of Jan. 1, 2020 or later, "cannot be commenced" even if they had already been partially or fully paid for, the tour operator announced on Tuesday, Xinhuanet reported. "We are so sorry that we have to deliver this message to our customers with departure in the new year," said Stefanie Berk, chairwoman of the management board of Thomas Cook Germany. Among others, the tour operators that are affected were Thomas Cook Signature, Thomas Cook Signature Finest Selection, Neckermann Reisen and Oeger Tours.

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A district court in the Latvian capital on Tuesday declared the country's oldest and largest cosmetics company Dzintars insolvent, local media reported. An aide to the judge at Riga City Pardaugava District Court who ruled on the financially ailing company's insolvency said that Dzintars had failed to provide proof that it had met its obligations to creditors, Xinhuanet reported.

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Even in a record-breaking year for global bond markets, Greece stands out. As recently as 2012, investors decided the country’s debt load had spiralled out of control and refused to lend to Athens at any cost, the Financial Times reported. Now, after a rally that has bewildered many observers, investors pay Greece to borrow on short-term debt. Ten-year bond yields trade at 1.2 per cent — well below the equivalent borrowing cost for the US government.

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PizzaExpress bondholders have warned the restaurant chain that its future is at risk, urging its Chinese owners to work with them on a financial restructuring, the Financial Times reported. A group of investors who own almost 70 per cent of the £465m of senior secured bonds told the board they were willing to provide extra money to secure the business, said two people with familiar with the situation.Their letter asked management to move quickly to restructure the group’s debt-laden balance sheet. Analysts from S&P on Monday said that a “distressed exchange or a debt restructurin

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British nursery retailer Mamas & Papas Retail was sold to private equity firm Bluegem Capital Partners, administrator Deloitte said on Friday, leading to the shutdown of six loss-making stores and 73 job losses, Reuters reported. The news comes three days after baby products retailer Mothercare said it would shut all its British stores. Mamas & Papas sells pushchairs, car seats, furniture, clothing and other nursery products.

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British budget airlines easyJet and Jet2.com have bought the take-off and landing slots of failed travel company Thomas Cook at London Gatwick and Manchester airports, respectively, Reuters reported. Thomas Cook’s UK business and airline went into immediate insolvency when the company collapsed in September, and a court appointed an official receiver to liquidate its assets.

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