Europe

More than 200 of Britain’s top financial experts have joined forces to design initiatives to help small businesses restructure and repay as much as 35 billion pounds in “unsustainable” COVID-19 relief debt, Reuters reported. TheCityUK Recapitalisation Group on Thursday proposed the launch of a UK Recovery Corporation (UKRC) to oversee a massive pile of government-guaranteed loans issued since lockdown, offering more manageable terms to borrowers and preventing a wave of bankruptcies borne by the taxpayer. “COVID-19 is a 100-year storm which has caused untold economic damage.

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PizzaExpress is heading for a takeover by its lenders as early as this month in a debt-for-equity swap with Chinese owner Hony Capital that is also likely to involve closing some of its high street restaurants hard hit in the pandemic, the Financial Times reported. Investors in the £465m of senior secured bonds that back the company are in advanced talks over a restructuring deal, according to two people familiar with the discussions.

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Coronavirus and the end-2020 Brexit deadline have left UK firms facing historic uncertainties, prompting many to find more flexible ways to protect their foreign exchange exposure — even if these come at a higher initial cost, Reuters reported. The pandemic is expected to cause Britain’s biggest economic contraction in 300 years and swell unemployment, debt and corporate bankruptcies. An added risk is that Britain could cast off from the European Union next year without having agreed any trade deals.

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The chief executive of UBI Banca has vowed to be a buyer rather than a seller in the consolidation of Italy’s fragmented banking sector, dismissing a takeover bid by the country’s largest bank Intesa Sanpaolo as anti-competitive, the Financial Times reported. “I understand that in certain countries it is desirable that large banks buy out smaller peers but . . . while Spain, France or the UK have several large banks, Italy only has one,” Victor Massiah told the Financial Times.

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Tax increases of £60bn or a return to austerity will be needed to restore the UK’s public finances to stability after coronavirus, the fiscal watchdog said on Tuesday, predicting government borrowing will reach £370bn this year, the Financial Times reported. Describing the long-term public finances as “clearly . . . on an unsustainable path”, the Office for Budget Responsibility said that a combination of borrowing to address the consequences of Covid-19 and the government’s decision to limit immigration after Brexit would increase the necessity for tax increases.

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Chinese investors who claim to trace their lineage to a renowned fourth-century calligrapher are fighting to retain control of a 256-year-old French crystal glassmaker, following a series of defaults and a private credit deal gone wrong, the Financial Times reported. The troubles for Beijing-based Fortune Fountain Capital and its struggle to hold on to Baccarat Crystal highlight the problems Chinese investors have run into after taking on excessive leverage to buy European brands — sometimes through private credit deals at lending rates far higher than those of bank loans.

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Troubled Spanish renewables firm Abengoa said on Tuesday it was in advanced talks to secure a 250 million euro ($285 million) state-backed liquidity line and restructure part of its debt, but did not expect a final decision until July 27, Reuters reported. The announcement means the Seville-based engineering group will miss Tuesday’s self-imposed deadline to reach an agreement with lenders that would allow it to stay afloat.

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Banks plan to cut back on the flow of credit to eurozone businesses this summer because they anticipate that governments will wind down their loan guarantee schemes, according to a European Central Bank survey published on Tuesday, the Financial Times reported. Lenders told the ECB in its quarterly survey that they expected “a considerable net tightening of credit standards on loans to enterprises” in the third quarter of 2020.

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Italian banks have the highest portion of loans to industries suffering the most from the coronavirus pandemic, making their capital buffers more vulnerable to any deterioration in asset quality, Bloomberg News reported. Credito Emiliano SpA, Banco BPM SpA, BPER Banca SpA and Unione di Banche Italiane SpA top the list of more than 100 European banks exposed to industries badly hurt by the crisis, according to a research conducted by Eric Dor, director of economic studies at the IESEG School of Management in Lille, France. “Loans to depressed sectors by several Italian banks are more than fo

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The High Court has extended the period of bankruptcy of a Co Monaghan farmer, who was adjudicated a bankrupt in February 2016, to February of 2024, The Irish Times reported. After a short hearing on Monday afternoon, Ms Justice Teresa Pilkington said she was “very far from satisfied” that there had been full co-operation from John Hoey, of Annacroft, near Carrickmacross. Mr Hoey, who was present in court, became bankrupt in 2016 after a petition from John Kelly Fuels, Promenade Road, Dublin, for a debt of more than €260,000.

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