Europe

The troubled German regional bank BayernLB said on Monday that it would shed more than a quarter of its workforce by 2013, with Asian operations slated to bear the brunt of a rigourous downsizing, Agence France-Presse reported today. A statement said BayernLB would eliminate 5,600 posts of a total 19,200 in a bid to save 670 million euros ($850 million) over the next five years. BayernLB “will be smaller and engaged in fewer activities, but it will emerge stronger, closer to its customers and less susceptible to incalculable risk," chairman Michael Kemmer was quoted as saying.
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Swiss Life Holding AG Wednesday said it would cut 200 jobs in Switzerland, citing ongoing restructuring efforts across the group, making it one of the first Swiss insurers to reduce staff in the current credit crisis, Dow Jones Newswires reported. The measures should help the life insurer reduce costs by around 90 million Swiss francs ($75.6 million) up to 2012, with half of the savings due in 2009. Restructuring costs amount to around CHF40 million, 80% of which will be charged to the 2008 financial year.
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Insolvency law will be reformed to address a serious concern over the safety of money held with London investment banks which has sprung up in the wake of the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the Financial Times reported yesterday. The government will take a special power in the banking bill that is going through parliament to bolster the protection for client money and assets held in investment companies. A review of the insolvency regime for investment banks will be conducted by next summer, ahead of a full formal consultation on the draft legislation.
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The cost of protecting corporate bonds from default fell around the world after Citigroup Inc. got $306 billion of troubled mortgages and toxic assets guaranteed by the U.S. government, Bloomberg reported today. Credit-default swaps on the Markit iTraxx Crossover index of 50 companies with mostly high-risk, high-yield credit ratings dropped 21 basis points to 892, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co. prices at 11:03 a.m. in London. Contracts on Citigroup fell 9 basis points to 482, CMA Datavision prices show.
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Thompson Reuters PLC has asked a bankruptcy court to require Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. to disclose and compensate Reuters for any of the information company's services and intellectual property that might be included in a transition services agreement between Lehman and its European branches, Bankruptcy Law360 reported today. The limited objection takes issue with Lehman's Nov. 13 motion seeking approval of a transition services agreement that would re-establish a cross-Atlantic trade of information among Lehman, Lehman Europe and Neuberger Berman Holdings LLC.
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Anglo-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca PLC plans 1,400 job cuts and is closing three plants around Europe as it joins others in the sector tackling increased competition and cost pressures, Reuters reported yesterday. The job cuts announced on Thursday are in addition to the 7,600 announced in July 2007 and will see AstraZeneca closing facilities at Porrino in Spain, Destelbergen in Belgium and Umea in northern Sweden.
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Creditors of French building materials manufacturer Terreal are urgently seeking dialogue with its private equity owner, LBO France, after Terreal defaulted on a 915 million euro loan, Reuters reported today. Terreal failed a leverage covenant test last Friday on the loan, which specified that its leverage ratio must be eight times and the company instead reported leverage of 8.4 times, banking sources said. Terreal's all-senior loan, which was arranged by ING, is now quoted in the secondary market at a steep discount of 22-32 percent of face value, which indicates distress.
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Iceland got a $4.6 billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund and four Nordic countries to help resurrect the island's economy after the failure of its biggest banks and the collapse of its currency, Bloomberg reported today. The Washington-based IMF approved a $2.1 billion loan late yesterday. Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark will provide a further $2.5 billion, the Finnish Finance Ministry said in a statement today. Approval of the loan dragged out after Iceland was unable to reach agreement with U.K.
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Pepsi Bottling Group Inc., the world's second-largest soft-drink distributor, lowered its 2008 earnings forecast and said it will eliminate 4.6 percent of its workforce in North America, Europe and Mexico, Bloomberg reported. Pepsi Bottling, which is 33 percent-owned by PepsiCo Inc., will cut 3,150 jobs, mostly in Mexico. Earnings per share will be $2.20 to $2.26 this year, down from the $2.32 to $2.38 Pepsi Bottling forecast in June, the Somers, New York-based company said today in a statement. The shares fell in New York trading.
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Spanish property group Tremon on Monday said it had filed for administration after failing to meet debt payments, hurting shares in banks which have total exposure of around 1 billion euros ($1.27 billion), Reuters reported. Tremon is the second large Spanish property group to seek administration this year following Martinsa Fadesa. Among its biggest creditors are Banco Popular, with around 200 million euros exposure, unlisted savings bank Bancaja with 100 million followed by Banco Pastor with 95 million.
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