Europe

Hammerson has ramped up property sales in a bid to reduce debt after a crisis in UK retail dealt a blow to the value of its portfolio last year and resulted in a full-year loss, the Financial Times reported. The shopping centre landlord that owns European and UK malls including London’s Brent Cross, said on Monday that it had sold £570m of properties in 2018 at an average discount to net asset value of 7 per cent. It planned to sell a further £500m to £900m in 2019 despite a “tough” market.

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Yildiz Holding AS, a debt laden Turkish food conglomerate, plans to sell its Jacob’s cracker unit and production facilities in the U.K. this year, according to two people with direct knowledge of the matter. The owner of McVitie’s digestives and Godiva chocolates may offload the entire business or a stake to an investor, the people said, asking not to be named because the talks are confidential, Bloomberg News reported. The company is working with Oppenheimer Holdings Inc. on the sale, the people said.

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Societe Generale SA is drawing up plans to cut jobs at its investment bank and find a partner for its cash-equity business in a bid to offset increasing cost pressure from regulation, people familiar with the matter said. The bank could cut hundreds or even thousands of jobs at its global banking and investor solutions unit, including roles in support functions such as finance and human resources, one person familiar with the situation said, asking not to be identified because the matter is confidential, Bloomberg News reported.

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Business confidence in Germany this month slid to its lowest level since December 2014 in the latest sign of weakness in the Eurozone’s largest economy, the Financial Times reported. Financiers views soured on both the current economic conditions and the country’s future outlook, according to the latest business climate index published by the Ifo Institute think tank. The gauge fell more sharply than expected to 98.5 in February from a revised level of 99.3 in January. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected a reading of 99.

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Eurozone economies will be paid to carry out labour market reforms and finance crisis-era investments from the single currency’s new budget, according to a Franco-German blueprint, the Financial Times reported. A four-page paper from Paris and Berlin’s finance ministries, seen by the Financial Times, lays out possible spending tasks and the legal set up of a “eurozone budgetary instrument”. It is the first attempt from the EU’s two biggest member states to flesh out how the eurozone budget should operate after European leaders agreed to set up the tool last December.

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Top banks led by HSBC have taken more than half a billion pounds in exceptional charges to cover a rise in defaults after Brexit, but other leading lenders are not as pessimistic on the UK’s economic outlook, creating a growing divide on strategy among Britain’s financial institutions, the Financial Times reported. HSBC, Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland have all set aside extra cash in the belief that standard economic models would not fully cover the risks of a disorderly Brexit, while rivals such as Lloyds and Santander have dismissed the need for extra provisions.

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Greek jewellery maker Folli Follie is in talks with three bondholders hoping to firm up a restructuring plan “within days”, a senior company source told Reuters on Friday. The step is key for the company, which has debt of about 430 million euros due this year and in 2021, to avoid collapse, Reuters reported. Along with its luxury jewellery trademark, Folli distributes international apparel brands in Greece, including Nike and Calvin Klein. It employs 5,000 people in its home market and abroad, including in China and Japan.

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The plight of the single currency area’s makers — hit hard by weak global demand and political uncertainty — intensified in February, according to a closely watched poll of purchasing managers, the Financial Times reported. A flash Purchasing Managers’ Index for manufacturers hit its lowest level for almost six years in February and suggested output is now contracting for the first time since 2013. The PMI for manufacturers hit 49.2 in February — below the crucial 50 level that separates an expansion in activity from a contraction and down from 50.5 the previous month.

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Europe’s largest telecoms companies have issued mixed guidance for the coming financial year, warning of slower growth due to competition and continued uncertainty. Deutsche Telekom, the continent’s largest telecoms group by value, has been hit by questions over whether regulators will approve its plan to acquire US rival Sprint this year, as well as the impact of an impending spectrum auction.

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Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman’s holding company, LetterOne, has stepped up its criticism of a turnround plan at Spanish grocer Dia Group as it filed regulatory documents for its own bid to buy out and fix the troubled chain, the Financial Times reported. “A lot of Dia’s problems have been in the making for some time,” said Stephan DuCharme, managing partner of LetterOne division L1 Retail.

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