Europe

President Nicolas Maduro is funneling cashflow from Venezuelan oil sales through Russian state energy giant Rosneft as he seeks to evade U.S. sanctions designed to oust him from power, according to sources and documents reviewed by Reuters. The sales are the latest sign of the growing dependence of Venezuela’s cash-strapped government on Russia as the United States tightens a financial noose around Maduro, who it describes as a dictator, Reuters reported.

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The Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe has ruled out suspending the work of Nama pending the final report of the investigation into the sale of the agency’s Northern Ireland loan portfolio, The Irish Times reported. In June 2017, the Government appointed retired High Court judge John Cooke to investigate Nama’s £1.24 billion (€1.43 billion) sale in 2014 of the Northern portfolio to US distressed-debt firm, Cerberus.

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British shoppers ignored worries about an impending Brexit deadline and spent heavily in March, official data showed on Thursday, supporting the country’s sluggish economy while companies were cutting back on investment, Reuters reported. Retail sales volumes surged by the most in nearly two-and-a-half years in annual terms, leaping by 6.7 percent. That was way above all forecasts in a Reuters poll of economists.

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Ukrainian tycoon Ihor Kolomoisky won a major victory on Thursday in his battle with the government over the nationalization of the country’s largest bank as a court ruled the change of ownership was illegal, Reuters reported. The ruling is a big setback for the government, which wrested PrivatBank from Kolomoisky, a co-founder of the bank, in December 2016. PrivatBank was nationalized as part of a clean-up of the banking system backed by the International Monetary Fund, which supports Ukraine with a $3.9 billion loan program.

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The German government has halved its growth forecast for 2019 to just 0.5 per cent, highlighting the extent to which wider conditions in the global economy have damaged the health of the eurozone’s economic powerhouse, the Financial Times reported. Peter Altmaier, economics minister, said on Wednesday that the downgrade from an earlier projection of 1 per cent was “a wake-up call” for an economy that over the past decade had experienced one of its most sustained periods of growth in modern history but was now under stress from a global economic slowdown and political uncertainty.

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GAM moved closer to drawing a line under the problems that have engulfed the Swiss fund manager with a deal to sell about £600m of bonds that will complete the liquidation of funds at the heart of its crisis, the Financial Times reported. The news from the Zurich-based group sent its shares up 14 per cent on Wednesday. It stunned the market last summer when it suspended Tim Haywood, a London-based investment director who oversaw the group’s SFr11bn absolute return bond funds (ARBF).

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Last summer, Deutsche Bank AG trumpeted a deal to strengthen the finances of Europe’s largest zinc smelter, Nyrstar NV. Less than a year later, the Belgian company is undergoing a massive debt restructuring, and the $150 million financing structure set up by Deutsche Bank is in line for losses of as much as 70 percent, Bloomberg News reported. Although relatively small in absolute terms, the losses are a black eye for Deutsche Bank, one of the leading financiers of the natural resources industry.

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Lufthansa has added to worries about the European aviation sector with a profit warning, two weeks after low-cost carrier easyJet spooked the market, the Financial Times reported. In an after-hours statement on Monday, the group said that rising fuel costs would send it to a worse than expected first-quarter loss, prompting its shares to drop 4.4 per cent in early trading on Tuesday. They recovered to trade flat by mid-morning.

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ING chief executive Ralph Hamers has approached Commerzbank’s boss Martin Zielke suggesting a cross-border merger of both banks that could include the relocation of ING’s headquarters to Frankfurt, the Financial Times reported. The move from the Dutch adds another twist to the protracted takeover saga over Germany’s second-largest listed lender.

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