Europe

Two of the UK’s largest peer-to-peer platforms are “urgently” seeking access to government schemes and financing to help them keep lending, as the coronavirus pandemic increases the risk of loan defaults by individuals and small businesses, the Financial Times reported. RateSetter, one of the UK’s biggest P2P lenders with more than £800m on its loan book, has called on the Bank of England and the Treasury to allow it access to stimulus schemes that provide liquidity to banks.

Read more

Burger King, Carluccio’s and Yo! Sushi are among hundreds of businesses in the UK planning to withhold rents this week as they battle to conserve cash to survive the coronavirus outbreak, the Financial Times reported. Alasdair Murdoch, chief executive of Burger King UK, said he would skip rent payments due on the chain’s more than 500 British restaurants to free up funds to pay staff, after the government announced that those who did not pay would not forfeit their lease.

Read more

Consumer confidence plummeted to a five-year low in the eurozone this month, according to new data from the European Commission that give a first glimpse of the economic toll that efforts to tackle the coronavirus pandemic are taking, the Financial Times reported. The commission’s eurozone flash consumer confidence indicator fell a record 5 points to minus 11.6, its lowest level since 2014 and below its long-term average. The wider gauge of EU consumer confidence dropped 4.5 points, back  to its long-term average of minus 10.4.

Read more

Laura Ashley Holdings said on Monday it will permanently shut 70 stores and cut hundreds of jobs as the struggling fashion retailer appointed administrators following a damaging blow to its business from the coronavirus pandemic, Reuters reported. The pandemic has compounded challenges faced by British retailers. Laura Ashley, a favourite of late Princess Diana in its 1980s heyday, has seen sales fall, store closures and weakness at its home furnishings business.

Read more

Offshore oil driller Valaris PLC is exploring debt restructuring options as it grapples with a rig accident and a broader collapse in energy prices, people familiar with the matter said on Friday, Reuters reported. Valaris has tapped debt restructuring attorneys at law firm Kirkland & Ellis LLP for advice on ways to rework its roughly $6.5 billion debt pile, and is exploring enlisting a turnaround firm that specializes in urgently addressing stressed finances to bolster its roster of advisers, the sources said.

Read more

Cath Kidston, the British modern vintage retailer known for its floral and polka dot designs, is this weekend racing to find a buyer as it tries to avoid becoming the latest high street casualty of the coronavirus pandemic, Sky News reported. Sky News has learnt that Cath Kidston, which was set up by its eponymous former boss in 1993, has drafted in advisers to undertake an urgent review of its strategic options. Insiders said on Saturday that Alvarez & Marsal (A&M) had notified prospective bidders this week that offers were required imminently for the business.

Read more

The coronavirus pandemic is ravaging the UK high street, with clothing chain Primark on Sunday becoming the latest to announce it was closing all its stores, the Financial Times reported. Associated British Foods, the family-controlled conglomerate that owns the brand, intends to close its 189 Primark stores in the UK for the foreseeable future. It has already shut 187 shops across Europe and the US. Department store John Lewis and sandwich chain Pret A Manger announced the closure of all outlets on Saturday.

Read more

The German government is to spend an additional €122.5bn this year to counter the slump caused by the coronavirus as it rips up the fiscal rule-book that has guided Europe’s largest economy for a decade, the Financial Times reported. Angela Merkel’s cabinet is set to pass a €156bn supplementary budget on Monday, which also foresees a dramatic €33.5bn plunge in tax revenues for this year. It will raise a total of €150bn in extra debt.

Read more

Carmakers across the UK are dusting off plans drawn up to cope with Brexit to help their businesses during the wave of factory shutdowns because of coronavirus, the Financial Times reported. They are restoring emergency measures, including letting warehouses to stockpile parts, as they prepare for weeks of plant downtime while still accommodating shipments of goods from across the world.

Read more

For the eurozone, this is not the 2010-2012 crisis all over again. It is far worse. The coronavirus will prove to be an economic shock, a corporate solvency crisis and a political crisis all folded in to one. The good news is that it will probably not become a sovereign debt crisis, the Financial Times reported in a commentary. The European Central Bank last week did the right thing and has reduced that probability. Its pandemic emergency purchase programme will help governments raise money for healthcare and a first set of economic measures.

Read more