Europe

L Catterton, the private equity firm backed by luxury French fashion house LVMH, is starting to pull ahead in the bidding for iconic German sandal maker Birkenstock, Bloomberg News reported. Birkenstock’s owners are currently focusing on negotiations with L Catterton as they prefer the investment firm’s track record buying and expanding family-backed consumer brands. They also see the potential to grow in Asia with L Catterton’s network in the region. L Catterton is competing with buyout firm CVC Capital Partners, which had approached Birkenstock earlier.
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Luxembourg’s investment fund industry is a financial “black box” that helps people launder illicit money and avoid tax, according to an investigation published on Monday whose findings were rejected by the EU nation, Reuters reported. The OpenLux investigation by journalists from a group of media organisations, including Le Monde, Le Soir, the Miami Herald and Sueddeutsche Zeitung, sifted through four million documents and records on 260,000 companies linked to Luxembourg’s 4.5 trillion euro ($5.4 trillion) investment funds sector between 1955 and 2020.

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Consumer spending declined last month as households cut back after Christmas and as the Covid lockdown reduced shopping opportunities, the Irish Times reported. Total spending fell 14 per cent year on year, with increased sales of digital content and spending on home-related goods failing to offset big declines in hospitality, travel and clothing. Figures compiled by fintech Revolut show spending in bars was down 94 per cent compared with January 2020, while expenditure in hotels and restaurants fell 86 per cent and 70 per cent respectively.

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The Irish government plans to launch a new financial support scheme for businesses that have seen their revenues devastated by Covid-19 lockdown restrictions but don’t qualify for the Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS), the Irish Times reported. The CRSS is available to businesses that were required to prohibit or considerably restrict customers from accessing their business premises as part of Covid-19 restrictions.
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Bespoke Hotels Group has defended its decision to resort to beginning insolvency proceedings for four of its hotels, Boutique Hotelier reported. Staff at The Lyndene and St Chads in Blackpool, The Townhouse in Manchester and The Duke in Plymouth were notified on Wednesday that they had all been made redundant. Bespoke Hotels said that the appointment of an insolvency practitioner was a last resort, after months of looking for alternative financial solutions.

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Aer Lingus has secured €150 million from the State-backed Ireland Strategic Investment Fund’s (Isif) pandemic recovery scheme, the Irish Times reported. The three-year loan will be used to strengthen the airline’s liquidity position as it seeks to deal with the impact of the Covid crisis. Isif, which operates under the umbrella of the National Treasury Management Agency, said the loan was agreed on commercial terms. Rival airline Ryanair has been critical of State supports availed of by competitors across Europe.

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German carrier Deutsche Lufthansa AG sold 1.6 billion-euros ($1.92 billion) of bonds on Thursday to partly repay a government bailout that kept it afloat after the pandemic severely disrupted international travel, Bloomberg News reported. Lufthansa will use 500 million euros to refinance financial liabilities due this year, and the rest of the funds will repay part of a 3 billion-euro loan from state development bank KfW, the company said in an emailed statement.
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Services companies in the U.S. and Asia gained ground in January, while a continued contraction in the eurozone threatened a double-dip recession, surveys of purchasing managers showed, the Wall Street Journal reported. The eurozone economy shrank in the final three months of last year amid high Covid-19 infection rates and related restrictions posed the risk of a double-dip recession. Surveys compiled by data firm IHS Markit released Wednesday showed the eurozone’s service sector fell to 45.0 from 46.4 in December.
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Bayer AG struck a $2 billion deal to resolve future legal claims that its widely used weedkiller Roundup causes cancer, the German company said on Wednesday, Reuters reported. Bayer has been struggling to finalize the settlement of claims that Roundup and other glyphosate-based herbicides cause non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of cancer. Bayer inherited the business and the litigation as part of a $63 billion acquisition of Monsanto in 2018. The company has said that decades of studies have shown Roundup and glyphosate are safe for human use.

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Commerzbank AG’s restructuring plan echoes that of its biggest rival Deutsche Bank AG, but without the latter’s debt-trading profit engine to pull it through, Bloomberg News reported. The Frankfurt-based lender said late Wednesday that it expects to post a loss of about 2.9 billion euros ($3.5 billion) for 2020, reflecting lower asset values and the cost of cutting about 10,000 jobs. The loss exceeds the 2.7 billion euros that analysts had estimated, and stands in contrast to Deutsche Bank’s announcement Thursday of its first annual profit since 2014.
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