Europe

Even as the European economy slumps into its deepest recession in modern history, the number of bankruptcies across the continent has fallen sharply as government subsidies and a temporary loosening of insolvency rules keep companies afloat, Reuters reported. During the first half of 2020, countries including Britain, France and Spain saw insolvencies fall by an estimated 20-40%year-on-year, official and private sector data show.

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Losses at Funding Circle more than tripled in the first half of the year, as the sudden onset of the coronavirus pandemic forced the peer-to-peer lender to write down the value of loans it had hoped to sell on to other investors, the Financial Times reported. Funding Circle originates small business loans on behalf of retail investors and other financial institutions, and generally only holds a small number of loans on its own balance sheet.

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Owners of clubs in rugby’s Premiership have said teams could go bust and the professional game may cease to exist if the government does not provide financial aid after its U-turn on allowing fans at stadiums amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Reuters reported. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told parliament that, as part of new restrictions to tackle a second wave of COVID-19, the government was putting on hold plans for 25%-33% capacities from Oct. 1.

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Eurozone services activity declined in September according to a widely watched business sentiment survey, fuelling economists’ concerns that a resurgence in coronavirus cases threatens the bloc’s economic recovery, the Financial Times reported. The IHS Markit flash eurozone purchasing managers’ index for services fell to 47.6 in September, from 50.5 in the previous month, data published on Wednesday showed. It was the first time in three months that the reading had dropped below the 50 mark, and the lowest level since May.

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After a decade of scandals and multiple bailouts, Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA is back in the spotlight, Bloomberg News reported in a commentary. This time, the Italian government is shopping around the 1.5 billion-euro ($1.7 billion) lender ahead of a European Union deadline for Rome to exit the bank next year. Loaded with legal risks that dwarf its market value, any investor will be loathe to buy Monte Paschi with those liabilities — not least in the midst of a pandemic. The risk to Italian taxpayers is that Rome offloads its majority stake in the world’s oldest bank at any cost.

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Wirecard’s fabricated Asian business was not its only deception. The rest of the once-lauded German payment provider’s business was chaotic, beset by byzantine reporting lines, hobbled by lamentable IT and racking up losses, according to a report by Wirecard’s administrator and accounts of former employees, the Financial Times reported. The picture that emerges of the Wirecard businesses that did exist is a stark contrast to the one painted by former chief executive Markus Braun, who hailed the group as a highly profitable pioneer in the payments industry.

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Struggling British companies have been forced to borrow close to £58bn in emergency loans backed by the government during the coronavirus pandemic, according to figures released by the Treasury, the Financial Times reported. The data published on Tuesday — which show a rise of almost £5bn in the past month — comes ahead of an expected extension for the four schemes put in place to support bank lending to companies to help them survive the effects of the economic lockdown.

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Premier Oil’s biggest lender, hedge fund Asia Research and Capital Management (ARCM), plans to auction $200 million of the energy producer’s debt ahead of a $530 million equity raise by the company, three sources told Reuters, Reuters reported. ARCM, which holds more than 15% of Premier’s debt instruments, would retain about $240 million of the company’s debt if the auction succeeds. The bid deadline is set for Friday, one of the sources said.

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The district court of Amsterdam on September 18, 2020 under a claim of Sberbank of Russia against DTEK Energy B.V. ordered to pay around $45.1 million and to take interim measures in respect of certain assets of DTEK Energy B.V. in the Netherlands, The Interfax-Ukraine News Agency reported. DTEK Energy said that these actions have no impact on the company's day-to-day operations of coal mining and electricity generation, the company is in dialogue with creditors on terms of the long-term loan restructuring.

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European banks have loaded up on more than €200bn of their own governments’ bonds since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, in a move that could reawaken fears about the sector’s growing stockpiles of risky sovereign debt, the Financial Times reported. According to research by S&P Global Ratings, banks had increased their holdings of home-country government bonds to nearly €1.6tn by the end of June, up 15 per cent from the end of February. The rating agency said the pace of purchases was seven times faster than in the same period in 2019.

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