Europe

The number of bankruptcies in Germany is set to rise this year for the first time since the financial crisis in 2009, the head of Germany’s insolvency administrators’ association said, warning that government aid could not protect all companies, Reuters reported. Europe’s largest economy is braced for a difficult period as the pandemic spreads around the world, severing supply chains and leading to collapsing demand for the exporting powerhouse’s goods. “There will be a rise in insolvencies for the first time since 2009, and it will be a clear increase,” Christoph Niering told Reuters.

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A-ETPL, Associação - Port Work Company of Lisbon announced that it had been notified of the decision to declare its insolvency and the appointment of the insolvency administrator, The Portugal News reported. In a statement, A-ETPL states that the sentence handed down by the Lisbon Judicial Court of Justice Lisbon Commercial Court - Judge 7 set a deadline of 30 days for claiming credits.

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European Central Bank President Mario Draghi’s pledge in 2011 to do “whatever it takes” to save the continent in the midst of the crisis helped bring bond markets back from the brink. Now, Christine Lagarde may be pushing them back there, Bloomberg News reported. Italian bonds endured their worst day ever -- trumping other momentous times in history, including the euro-area debt crisis and 2018’s budget standoff with the European Union. Trading in the country’s bond futures and those of France had to be halted after seeing a flash crash-like slide.

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Christine Lagarde has called on EU leaders to launch more urgent action to avoid the spread of coronavirus triggering a serious economic slowdown, the Financial Times reported. Speaking on a video call with EU leaders on Tuesday night, the president of the European Central Bank sought to shake them out of what she sees as a complacent attitude to the epidemic, according to a person briefed on her comments.

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UK’s Countrywide said on Wednesday a deal to sell its commercial real estate consultancy business has been delayed, sending the debt-laden company’s shares lower, Reuters reported. The sale of Lambert Smith Hampton (LSH), which was agreed with Monaco-based entrepreneur John Bengt Moeller in November, would have fetched the British real estate agent 38 million pounds. Countrywide said Moeller had failed to complete the deal by a March 1 deadline, adding that it was looking at legal options to claim costs from him for the delay and for the damages caused.

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Telefonica SA and Telecom Italia SpA’s Brazilian units are working together to buy the mobile operations of Oi SA and end years of failed attempts to consolidate the country’s wireless industry, Bloomberg News reported. Telefonica Brasil SA and Tim Participacoes SA said they’ll will hold discussions on a potential joint acquisition of all or part of Oi’s mobile assets, which Bradesco BBI estimates may be worth at least 12 billion reais ($2.6 billion).

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Rishi Sunak balanced a warning of severe disruption to the UK economy from the spiralling coronavirus epidemic with a multibillion pound package of emergency measures aimed at keeping the UK’s 6m small and medium-sized businesses afloat, the Financial Times reported. A £1bn government-backed emergency loan scheme, reimbursement of sick pay costs, suspension of business rates for retail and leisure outlets, and a £3,000 cash grant to the smallest of businesses were among the temporary initiatives introduced by the new chancellor to address strains that companies across the coun

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Norway risks sinking into a recession for the first time since the financial crisis of 2008, after a collapse in oil prices added to the fallout of the coronavirus, Bloomberg News reported. The government of western Europe’s biggest petroleum producer, which is also the richest Nordic economy, is preparing emergency stimulus measures to fight the effect of the virus on trade and travel. Prime Minister Erna Solberg said she’s also ready to counter the potentially more damaging fallout of an oil crisis if necessary. “If the economy is lower, there could be room to spend more money.

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In a related story, Bloomberg News reported that Italy is negotiating with banks to provide breaks from debt payments including mortgages as it seeks to soften the impact of a nationwide lockdown to contain the coronavirus. The government is considering unprecedented steps to inject money into companies and ease family debt burdens, Deputy Finance Minister Laura Castelli said in a radio interview. It’s also looking to aid those who experience temporary layoffs, she said, adding that a new decree on economic relief will be announced soon.

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