Europe

A few weeks ago, Germany’s ruling Christian Democratic party put out a tweet that, depending on your viewpoint, was either naively sincere or shamelessly provocative. Above what looked like a pair of bondage items, the CDU said: “We have a small fetish: solid finances without new debts.” Fiscal rectitude, the tweet went on to say, represents justice between older and younger generations and is a precondition of investments in society’s future, the Financial Times reported in a commentary.

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In January-November 2019, UAH 7.878 billion was transferred to the accounts of insolvent banks, according to the Deposit Guarantee Fund of Ukraine, Ukrinform reported. “In January-November 2019, UAH 7,877.6 million was transferred to the accounts of banks being under liquidation. Of which the largest sum totaling UAH 6,832.0 million was received from the sale of assets of banks being under liquidation, UAH 928.2 million from repayment of loans, UAH 100.9 million from property rent, and UAH 16.6 million from redemption of securities,” reads the report.

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Bad weather and belt-tightening hit the traditional start of Christmas discount sales on Thursday, dealing another blow to a high street retail industry blighted by years of shop closures and insolvencies, the Financial Times reported. Boxing Day has long marked the opening of the busy festive sales season, but its importance has waned as shoppers have moved online and retailers offer other promotions — such as November’s Black Friday — in the run-up to Christmas.

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In Rome’s central shopping street, Via del Corso, Maria Lipari is looking for a scarf to give to her daughter for Christmas. Like many Italians, she prefers to pay for her festive gifts the old-fashioned way — with cash. But the Italian government hopes to persuade her to change. Italy has one of Europe’s lowest rates of usage of card payments, with 86 per cent of transactions paid for using notes and coins, according to central bank estimates, the Financial Times reported.

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The Italian government is on the verge of an outright battle with the company that operates more than half of the country’s aging toll roads, Bloomberg News reported. After Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s administration provisionally approved rules on the revocation of highway concessions, operator Autostrade per L’Italia said Dec. 22 they appeared unconstitutional and contrary to European Union norms and would result in the “legal termination” of the concession agreement.

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After a decade-long debt crisis that made Greece a bond-market pariah, the country now enjoys the luxury of having no financing needs for 2020. Yet the government’s 2020 budget shows it still plans to sell new debt, Bloomberg News reported. Despite a cash buffer of some 32 billion euros ($35.6 billion) left over from the country’s bailout program, Greece wants to maintain the good momentum of 2019 after yields hit record low levels in October.

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A source close to Atlantia's motorway unit warned on Monday the company would go bankrupt if the government revoked its concession without compensation following the deadly collapse of a bridge last year, the International New York Times reported on a Reuters story. The source said that the company, Autostrade per l'Italia (ASPI), would be unable to pay back 10.8 billion euros ($12 billion) in debt if it were stripped of its motorway concession without receiving any indemnity.

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French marine services group Bourbon Corporation, which has been in a court restructuring process after its business was hit by volatile energy markets, said its assets would be taken over by its creditor banks, Reuters reported. Bourbon said the Marseille commercial court had ruled that Bourbon’s assets would be transferred to Société Phocéenne de Participations (SPP) from Jan. 2, 2020.

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When Mexican food chain Chilango offered customers the chance to invest in its “burrito bonds” last year, it promised annual returns of 8 per cent and free food for life. It was part of a new wave of early stage restaurant businesses that have found creative — and sometimes risky — ways to finance their expansion at a time when cost pressures and competition in the sector are at all time highs, the Financial Times reported.

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Greek Bonds Buck Eurozone Trend

Eurozone bond yields rose on Wednesday after more upbeat European economic data helped offset some of the anxiety about a new Brexit cliff-edge that boosted demand for safe-haven government debt a day earlier, The Trust Project reported. Investors have been dumping eurozone government debt for riskier assets in recent weeks on signs the economy is rebounding and in anticipation of an agreement on the first phase of a trade deal between Washington and Beijing. Read more

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