Europe

The Bank of Italy has cleared a multi-billion euro buyout bid for infrastructure group Atlantia proposed by the Benetton family and U.S. fund Blackstone, the two bidders said in a statement on Wednesday, Reuters reported. The Benetton family and the U.S. fund, who have joined forces through investment vehicle Schema Alfa, aim to take the Italian airport and motorway operator private by the end of this year. They are offering Atlantia's investors 23 euros per share and a proposed dividend of 0.74 euros a share.
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Hakle has been a German household name since 1928, but the Duesseldorf-based toilet paper manufacturer said all it took was this summer's gas price shock to drive it into insolvency, Reuters reported. Energy-intensive firms such as Hakle were particularly vulnerable after Russian gas supply cuts to Europe, which Moscow has blamed on Western sanctions following its invasion of Ukraine in February.
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The German government is planning to inject about 8 billion euros ($8 billion) into Uniper SE as part of a historic agreement to nationalize the gas giant in a push to stave off a collapse of the country’s energy sector, Bloomberg News reported. A provisional deal between Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s administration, Uniper and its main shareholder, Finland’s Fortum Oyj, has been reached and could be announced as soon as Wednesday. As part of the deal, Germany will buy Fortum’s 78% stake in Uniper and take full ownership of the German company.
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High energy prices are lashing European industry, forcing factories to cut production quickly and put tens of thousands of employees on furlough, the New York Times reported. The cutbacks, though expected to be temporary, are raising the risks of a painful recession in Europe. Industrial production in the euro area fell 2.3 percent in July from a year earlier, the biggest drop in more than two years.
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German producer prices rose in August at their strongest rate since records began both in annual and monthly terms, driven mainly by soaring energy prices, raising the chances that headline inflation will surge even higher, Reuters reported. Producer prices of industrial products increased by 45.8% on the same month last year, the Federal Statistical Office reported on Tuesday. Compared to July 2022, prices rose 7.9%, it added. The surge was considerably stronger than expected, with analysts having forecast a 37.1% year-on-year rise and a 1.6% monthly rise, according to a Reuters poll.
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European natural gas prices fluctuated after three days of declines, with traders weighing if countries’ intensified efforts to ease a crisis will be enough to avoid shortages this winter, Bloomberg News reported. Benchmark futures erased earlier losses, but hovered near the lowest levels since late July. The German government released another 2.5 billion euros ($2.5 billion) of credit lines for gas purchases as it looks to ensure there’s enough supply for winter, while Chancellor Olaf Scholz will chase new deals during his trip to the Middle East this weekend.
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Europe Is Running Out of Safe Assets

Investors have a problem: As the European Central Bank raises interest rates and the eurozone economy edges closer to a recession, they may not have enough places to hide, the Wall Street Journal reported. Over the past week, markets have started to reflect the 0.75 percentage-point increase in interest rates that the ECB announced earlier in September. The euro short-term rate, or €STR, which tracks the price at which banks lend unsecured money to each other overnight, closed Friday at 0.66%, compared with minus 0.083% before the rate increase.
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Sweden's central bank raised interest rates on Tuesday by a larger-than-expected full percentage point to 1.75% and warned of more to come over the next six months as it sought to get to grips with surging inflation, Reuters reported. Inflation hit 9% - a 30-year high - in August as the effects of soaring energy prices spread through the economy, and has overshot the Riksbank's forecasts.
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European natural gas futures fell again to their lowest level in almost two months as nations intensify efforts to ease the energy crisis with the start of the heating season less than two weeks away, Bloomberg News reported. Benchmark prices dropped as much as 8.8% on Monday, extending last week’s decline. Germany, the U.K. and others plan to spend billions to ease their reliance on Russian imports, rescue local energy companies, and cap prices to alleviate pressures on businesses and households.
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The Bank of England this week will consider whether to push through the biggest interest-rate increase in 33 years to respond to surging inflation and weakening confidence in British assets, Bloomberg News reported. With prices rising five times faster than the UK central bank’s 2% target and the pound falling almost daily, policy makers led by Governor Andrew Bailey are under pressure to step up the pace of monetary tightening.
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