Europe

Credit Suisse Group AG’s recent shareholder meeting took an awkward turn when a Mozambican activist questioned Chairman Urs Rohner over the bank’s role in fraudulent deals that saddled her country with $2 billion of debt, The Wall Street Journal reported. The confrontation halfway through Friday’s meeting was the latest example of the rising international pressure on Credit Suisse to forgive loans it made to Mozambican state-owned companies engaged in an alleged complex fraud, and potentially, to pay damages to victims.

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The financial crisis has caused a “split in society” in some European countries due to the “deep scars” of a lost economic decade that are still affecting workers’ chances, new research has warned, the Financial Times reported. Although aggregate growth across the continent is rebounding after a weak end to last year, economic activity and employment in some areas are yet to surpass the levels achieved more than a decade ago, the report by economists at Dutch bank ING found.

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UK manufacturing growth slowed in April as companies eased their stockpiling following the delay of Brexit and new export orders declined, according to a survey of executives, the Financial Times reported. The IHS Markit manufacturing purchasing managers’ index dropped to 53.1 in April, from 55.1 in the previous month, in line with the expectations of economists polled by Reuters. The survey covers last month, when the UK’s exit from the EU was delayed to the end of October after MPs repeatedly voted down Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal with the EU.

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Some of Metro Bank’s largest customers left the bank after the discovery of a historic accounting error in the first quarter, damaging growth at the under-fire British lender, the Financial Times reported. Chief executive Craig Donaldson said “adverse sentiment” had led to the departure of a “small number of large commercial and partnership customers”, contributing to a 4 per cent quarter-on-quarter reduction in deposits. Metro Bank in January revealed that it had miscategorised a large number of commercial loans, meaning it did not have as much capital against them as it should.

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Philip Green is racing to secure the future of his retail group Arcadia, promising to invest £100m in the company as it seeks creditor support for what promises to be one of the most complex restructurings on the UK high street, the Financial Times reported. The owner of chains including Topshop and Dorothy Perkins is locked in tense negotiations with landlords and the pensions regulator over plans to cut rents and close a swath of stores in the face of sinking sales in its UK shops and persistent discounting by high-street rivals.

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Debenhams is demanding reductions in business rates alongside cuts to rents as part of its attempt to reduce its store occupancy costs, according to documents seen by the Financial Times. Last week, the struggling department store group confirmed it would launch a company voluntary arrangement — a type of insolvency proceeding — to restructure its expensive and inflexible leases, the Financial Times reported. That followed a financial restructuring through which the group’s creditors took control of its business and assets.

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Britain’s second biggest care home operator Four Seasons has appointed administrators to push through a sale in a last-ditch attempt to save the business that houses 17,000 residents, the Financial Times reported. The administration of two holding companies — which were set up by the care home chain’s former private equity owner, Terra Firma — will enable the US hedge fund that seized control to sell the business without any ongoing obligations.

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The two biggest banks in the Nordic region saw their market values shrink on Tuesday after publishing first-quarter results that disappointed investors, Bloomberg News reported. Danske Bank A/S said it now expects net interest income to be lower this year than in 2018 as the higher cost of funding brought on by its money-laundering scandal erodes its top line. Its shares plunged more than 7 percent after the market opened in Copenhagen. At Nordea Bank Abp, net interest income missed market expectations amid growing pressure from its biggest investors to boost revenue.

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The number of companies falling into financial distress in England and Wales rose in early 2019, adding to signs that businesses struggled in the run-up to the original March Brexit deadline, official data showed on Tuesday, Reuters reported. There were 4,187 company insolvencies in the first quarter, up from 3,938 in the fourth quarter, the Insolvency Service said, citing seasonally adjusted data excluding “bulk” closures of companies set up by individuals for their personal affairs.

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A delegation from a leading Chinese shipbuilding company has arrived in Croatia for talks about a possible investment in the country’s largest shipbuilder Uljanik, which is struggling to avoid bankruptcy, Reuters reported. Officials from the China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC) met Croatia’s Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and his economic team on Monday and will visit Uljanik’s docks in the northern Adriatic later this week. “After the visit to the docks we will give full and serious consideration to this matter,” CSIC’s Chief Executive Hu Wenming told reporters.

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