Europe

Hedge funds and private-equity firms are signing up European distressed-debt experts at the fastest pace in at least five years as slowing growth drives up corporate defaults in the region, Bloomberg News reported. Investment firms hired 29 new analysts, traders and money managers specializing in distressed situations during the first half of the year on a net basis, according to a report by headhunters Paragon Search Partners. That compares to 20 over the same period in 2018 and a net loss of two the year before.

Read more

The Insolvency Practitioners Association has announced it will investigate the company voluntary arrangement organised to cut the debts of Bury, who were expelled by the English Football League on Tuesday, The Guardian reported. The IPA said its decision to “consider the operation of the CVA”, followed concerns expressed in the Guardian by the Bury North MP, James Frith, and the Football Supporters’ Association. Frith has said he assumes it will also be “standard practice” that the Insolvency Service, a government agency, will investigate.

Read more

Economic sentiment in the UK dropped to its lowest level in seven years in August on the back of weak services and a slump in confidence in the retail sector, the Financial Times reported. Monthly figures from the European Commission showed that while the eurozone had arrested the decline in its economic sentiment, it continued to fall fast in the UK. The figures highlight the fragility of the UK economy as the Brexit deadline approaches, and were particularly weak among retailers, who recorded the lowest level of confidence for just over a decade.

Read more

The eurozone is developing a two-speed economy as the growing impact of global trade tension weighs on some countries while others benefit from their stronger domestic demand base, the Financial Times reported. Economic measures published on Thursday showed encouraging signs for France, but pointed to continued gloom for export-led economies such as Germany and Italy. Both countries are severely affected by the rising US-China trade tensions and weakening global demand.

Read more

Specialist lender Amigo has warned it will change its business model to head off a regulatory crackdown, sending its shares plunging more than 50 per cent on Thursday, the Financial Times reported. The UK company, which lends to people with poor credit ratings as long as they have someone to step in should they fail to repay, has drawn the scrutiny of the Financial Conduct Authority over concerns that its customers risk becoming trapped as repeat borrowers on interest rates of close to 50 per cent.

Read more

Germany’s economic downturn is reigniting fears in Angela Merkel’s government about the future of its two largest lenders, Bloomberg News reported. The push for Deutsche Bank AG and Commerzbank AG to hold merger talks created a massive backlash and eventually failed. Potential buyers are steering clear. Now, the administration is running out of options just when a looming recession fuels fears Germany’s banks might not be prepared to weather another crisis, according to two senior officials with direct knowledge of the government’s stance. The German Finance Ministry declined to comment.

Read more

Italian bonds surged to take benchmark yields to a record low as talks progressed to form a new government, reducing the political risk of fresh elections for investors, Bloomberg News reported. Ten-year yields fell below 1% for the first time and their premium over Germany, a key gauge of risk in the nation, touched the lowest level since May last year when the previous coalition was being formed.

Read more

When Ayuka Tserenov lost his job as a loan officer at the giant Kremlin-run lender Sberbank three years ago, he found himself staring at nearly Rbs3.5m ($52,760) in debt, the Financial Times reported. He had taken out a Rbs2.5m loan from his employer to buy an apartment in his southern hometown of Elista when he and his wife had their first child. Mr Tserenov’s Rbs40,000 monthly wage was not enough to cover the down payment, so he took out another Rbs250,000 from another bank, then went deeper into debt to cover further living expenses.

Read more

A combination of business taxes and higher staff costs hit first-half profits at PizzaExpress, prompting the UK chain to scale back its expansion plans, the Financial Times reported. The group, which helped pioneer casual dining in the UK, pinned the blame on “industry-wide cost pressures” as it reported that earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation fell almost 8 per cent to £32.4m in the six months to the end of June.

Read more

British banks need “a generation” to fix the cultural issues that led to the payment protection insurance mis-selling scandal, according to the UK’s most senior retail banking regulator, as he warned that bad behaviour could return during the next economic downturn, the Financial Times reported. Jonathan Davidson, director of supervision for retail and authorisations at the Financial Conduct Authority, said lenders had made genuine efforts to reform since they were forced to set up a PPI compensation schemes in 2011.

Read more