Europe

Stockpiling ahead of the now-postponed October 31 Brexit deadline limited the contraction in UK manufacturing activity at the start of the final quarter of the year, according to a business survey, the Financial Times reported. The IHS Markit purchasing managers’ index for manufacturing rose to 49.6 in October from 48.3 in September. Economists polled by Reuters had expected a marginal decline to 48.1.

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Geir Karlsen has been busy. Over the past four months, the chief executive of Norwegian Air Shuttle has sold off a large chunk of the airline’s assets at a remarkable pace as he attempts to secure the future of the world’s fifth-biggest low-cost carrier, the Financial Times reported. But the 54-year old acting chief executive, who took the top job in July and also wears the airline’s chief financial officer hat, remains sombre. “We’re not happy”, he said, when asked if he is pleased with the changes he has made, but added that the airline is “on the right track”.

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Nikolaos Karamouzis has honed his knowledge of Greece’s crisis-stricken economy over more than three decades in finance and perhaps sees investment opportunities where others fear to tread, Bloomberg News reported. The former banker is putting together a fund to invest in some of the struggling small and medium-sized enterprises that still play a critical role in the Greek economy, providing six out of 10 jobs -- twice the European Union average. Many are weighed down by soured loans but Karamouzis believes some retain significant potential if money is targeted in the right places.

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China’s Fosun Tourism Group said on Friday it would acquire the Thomas Cook and related hotel brands for 11 million pounds ($14.25 million), in a bid to expand its presence in the tourism business, Reuters reported. The assets include trademarks, domain names, software applications and licenses of the British travel firm and related hotel brands, Hong Kong-listed Fosun said, adding that it did not plan to buy overseas assets or businesses related to Thomas Cook for the time being.

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Britain's Carpetright is in talks with its largest shareholder Meditor over a possible takeover at a huge discount to its closing value on Wednesday, prompting a 50% crash in its shareprice, the International New York Times reported on a Reuters story. The floor coverings retailer, which trades from about 330 stores, has been struggling for years and fought off collapse last year by entering a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) restructuring that closed shops and reduced rents.

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Chinese conglomerate Fosun is close to acquiring Thomas Cook’s brand and its intellectual property assets, which could allow the business to be revived again as an online travel agent just months after collapsing into administration, the Financial Times reported. The deal to acquire the Thomas Cook assets could be announced as soon as this week, said two people briefed on the situation, although they cautioned that the deal had not been finalised. A number of other groups have been bidding, including rival travel agency, Tui.

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The number of people entering insolvency in England and Wales rose sharply in the three months to September compared with a year ago, according to official data that add to questions about the financial resilience of British consumers, Reuters reported. The government’s Insolvency Service said the number of people officially entering financial distress rose to 30,879 in seasonally adjusted terms, up 23% on a year ago though little changed from 30,690 in the second quarter.

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Mortgage lenders can no longer impose legal fees and other charges on borrowers in arrears who are co-operating with their bank to resolve the issue, The Irish Times reported. The Central Bank has written to all the main Irish lenders, reminding them of their obligation not to impose charges on borrowers ahead of a decision by a court on whether to repossess a property, or of a settlement between the two parties. It also said costs cannot be added to a mortgage account until a borrower was in a position to redeem the debt and had requested to do so.

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