Europe

British marketing group Aegis said it expects to take a one-off charge of 25 million pounds ($40.4 million) this year to cover the risk that a struggling Spanish client will not be able to settle its bills, Reuters reported. The provision will have no effect on Aegis' underlying results, which will be in line with analysts' current expectations, the company said in a statement on Tuesday. Aegis shares were down 3.1 percent at 141.9 pence by 1456 GMT having earlier fallen as low as 141.2 pence, underperforming the FTSE 250 share index, which was 0.7 percent lower.
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Some European officials are quietly discussing contingencies for what might be a Portuguese request for financial aid as early as next month, when the highly indebted country begins facing large-scale debt redemptions, The Wall Street Journal reported. Financial pressure on the country's treasury is increasing, a topic that is likely to come up at the March 11 and March 24 meetings of European Union leaders, according to people familiar with the discussions. Portugal has raised €4.75 billion ($6.5 billion) via bond sales so far this year.
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Icelandic President Olafur R. Grimsson said Friday he will take a few days to decide whether to ratify a bill that would solve a long-running, politically bruising dispute with Britain and the Netherlands over a $5 billion repayment, Bloomberg reported. Icelandic lawmakers voted earlier this week in favor of the deal to repay funds invested by British and Dutch citizens in Internet bank Icesave that were lost when it collapsed in late 2008. Finance Minister Steingrimur J.
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Czech lottery company Sazka has received takeover offers from two investors, the latest development in a battle for control of the indebted firm, Reuters reported. Investment group KKCG on Monday made a direct offer to shareholders for a 2.8 billion crown ($156.8 million) capital hike in Sazka in exchange for a 67 percent stake. KKCG said its offer would guarantee 250 million crowns annually for 15 years to sports unions which own Sazka.
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Spain's central bank said the country's ailing savings banks are holding about €100 billion ($136.86 billion) in "potentially problematic" real-estate assets, the first time it has put a number on the extent of those holdings, The Wall Street Journal reported. The figure was disclosed as the head of the Bank of Spain voiced support for the government's plan to boost the solvency levels of those banks, known as cajas.
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Defaults among Irish mortgage holders more than doubled over the course of last year and were still growing in December, according to the latest analysis from Moody’s, the Irish Times reported. The ratings agency found that 1.65 per cent of the residential mortgages it studied had not been repaid for 360 days or more in December, up from 1.62 per cent in November. This compared to 0.7 per cent a year earlier, marking growth of almost 140 per cent over the course of 2010.
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Despite complaints from Spain's ailing savings banks that reform efforts are moving too swiftly, the Spanish government is standing firm in its push to quickly convert the local institutions into traditional banks, according to people familiar with the matter, The Wall Street Journal reported. The government's new solvency decree will firm up a set of ambitious overhauls announced by Spanish Finance Minister Elena Salgado last month.
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Danske Bank and four other Danish lenders have had their credit ratings cut by Moody’s after a bank collapse revealed the country’s government was willing to impose losses on depositors and senior creditors in failed banks, the Irish Times reported. The rating agency said last week’s bankruptcy of Amagerbanken, a small Danish lender, showed that Copenhagen “is now far less willing to continue to support bank creditors at the expense of taxpayers” than just a few months ago.
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The woes of WestLB, which has received $11 billion in taxpayer support since 2009, are symptomatic of a larger problem in the German economy. Many of its biggest banks are still on government life support after making bad lending bets during the bubble years. And with their access to cheap capital long gone, their prospects of becoming profitable again are dubious, the International Herald Tribune reported.
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European Union regulators will review competing restructuring plans for WestLB AG, the state- owned lender bailed out during the financial crisis, from the bank’s board and the German government, Bloomberg reported. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble proposed the bank transfer its non-saleable assets to a so-called bad bank and sell the rest of its portfolio, EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said in an e-mailed statement today. Savings banks would take over the rest of the bank, he said.
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