Europe

A co-founder of the collapsed Bula mine in County Meath has lost a Supreme Court appeal aimed at permitting him to challenge a decision adjudicating him bankrupt over non-payment of a €4.8 million legal costs debt, the Irish Times reported. The High Court granted a petition in March 2018 adjudicating Michael Wymes and another co-founder of Bula, Richard Wood, bankrupt. The two, with Tom Roche senior, established Bula in 1971 to buy a zinc and lead mine near Navan, but it collapsed with substantial debts some years later.

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The Dambovita county court has launched bankruptcy proceedings against Romanian special steel mill Cos Targoviste, formerly known as Mechel Targoviste, SeeNews reported. The court rejected the reorganisation plan submitted by Alpha Financial, one of the steel mill's creditors, a statement filed on Wednesday by Cos Targovishte with the Bucharest Stock Exchange, BVB, showed. Cos Targoviste said that it will appeal the court decision. As a result of the start of bankruptcy proceedings, the company's shares were suspended from trading on the main segment of the BVB on Thursday.

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Global M&A activity broke records for a second consecutive quarter this year as companies continued to borrow cheaply and spend their cash reserves on transformative deals to reposition themselves for the post-COVID world, Reuters reported. Deals worth $1.5 trillion were announced in the three months to June 30, more than any second quarter on record and up 13% from the record first quarter of the year despite activity among blank-check firms slowed down.

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Britain is set to secure an exemption for financial services from a new global tax system which was agreed by the Group of Seven economies to squeeze more money out of multinationals like Google, the Financial Times said, Reuters reported. Earlier this month, British finance minister Rishi Sunak was pushing for financial service firms to be exempt to help protect the City of London’s largest banks from paying more tax.

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Gap will close all its 81 stores in Britain and Ireland by the end of September as it increases its focus on online shopping, The New York Times reported. The retailer also plans to shed its 32 locations in France and Italy. “The e-commerce business continues to grow and we want to meet our customers where they are shopping,” Gap said in a statement. The company is in negotiations with Hermione People and Brands, the retail branch of FIB Group, to take over Gap stores in France, while a buyer for the Italy locations is still not certain.

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The number of people registered as sex workers with German authorities declined sharply last year as coronavirus restrictions shut brothels for months, official data showed Thursday, the Associated Press reported. Legislation in 2002 legalized and regulated prostitution in Germany, giving sex workers social benefits, and they are now obliged to register. But brothels have been closed for much of the time since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020 as part of wider lockdowns.

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Euro zone manufacturing activity expanded at its fastest pace on record in June, according to a survey that also showed factories faced the steepest rise in raw materials costs in well over two decades, Reuters reported. The COVID-19 pandemic forced governments to shutter much of the 19-country bloc's dominant services industry, ravaging the economy, but factories have largely remained open and the lifting of some restrictions has boosted demand.

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The European Commission on Wednesday proposed caps on interest rates for consumer credit agreements and a ban on bundling practices as part of tougher consumer credit rules following the surge in online shopping during COVID-19 lockdowns and the rise of digital lenders, Reuters reported. Existing rules known as the General Product Safety Directive came into force in 2001 while rules on consumer credit to safeguard consumers date from 2008. The EU executive said 70% of consumers shopped online last year, with new technology products making up the bulk of their purchases.
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Europe’s corporate-debt issuance market looks set to cool in the second half of the year, as the recovery from the pandemic curbs new sales, Bloomberg News reported. High-grade companies have raised about 157 billion euros ($187 billion) of new bonds in the region so far this year, about half the volume priced in the first six months of 2020. That’s slashed their share of first-half European debt sales to less than a sixth from more than a quarter a year ago. The slowing pace suggests the days of hectic issuance seen during the height of the coronavirus crisis may be over.
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Non-Standard Finance said that it plans to close its guarantor loans division, the latest British sub-prime lender forced to scale back because of a sharp increase in complaints and intense regulatory scrutiny, Reuters reported. NSF, whose shares slumped 12% after results showed an annual loss and steep costs, said that it will place its guarantor loans division into a managed run-off, and eventually shut it down.
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