Europe

Russian miner Norilsk Nickel, the world's largest nickel producer, is seeking to reschedule debts linked to the 2007 takeover of Canada's LionOre, London's Independent on Sunday reported. Norilsk declined to comment when contacted by Reuters after the newspaper reported it "is looking to ease the terms of the loan taken out on its $6.4 billion purchase of Canadian rival LionOre in 2007". The London offices of investment banks Rothschild and Lazard have been approached by Norilsk to help "sort out its debt difficulties", the Independent on Sunday reported.
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The European Union said Monday that Europe is suffering ''a deep and widespread recession'' and that unemployment will rise sharply over the coming two years, The New York Times reported on an Associated Press story. The European Commission said both the 27-nation EU and the 16 countries that use the euro currency will shrink by 4 percent this year, more than double its January estimates, when it forecast a 1.8 percent contraction for the EU and a 1.9 percent decline for the euro area.
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Italian automaker Fiat SpA's next project is a deal with Germany's Opel after a landmark alliance with U.S. car maker Chrysler, Fiat's chief executive said in an interview published on Friday. Sergio Marchionne told La Stampa newspaper that Fiat also remained committed to Italy but needed to work with the government and unions on "structural problems". Fiat sealed an industry-changing deal with Chrysler, the smallest of Detroit's Big Three automakers, on Thursday. Fiat will take an initial 20 percent stake in Chrysler, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
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As in other countries, the current economic and financial crisis has already taken its toll on Belgium. The number of bankruptcies has reached record heights. Unemployment is rising and forecasts for 2009 are pessimistic, Legal Week reported. In this context, the Belgian Parliament adopted a new Act on Business Continuity, which came into force on 1 April, 2009. This new Act replaces the former and unsuccessful judicial composition procedure with a more effective and flexible restructuring instrument.
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BTA Bank, Kazakhstan’s largest lender, began talks with creditors to renegotiate payments on as much as $15 billion of debt in a bid to avert bankruptcy, Chief Executive Officer Anvar Saidenov said. “The viability of the institution will depend on how successful we are in negotiating with our creditors,” Saidenov, who is also chairman of BTA’s management board, said today in an interview in London.
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The European Commission proposed a draft law on Wednesday that would make it mandatory for hedge funds to register and disclose information on leverage to supervisors if they want to operate in the EU, a Commission official said. The draft law has been subject to intense horse-trading ahead of its publication as Britain, the European Union's hedge fund centre, fears overly draconian rules, while France is a keen backer of tighter regulation. The global hedge fund sector has assets totalling $1.4 trillion, relatively small compared to the wider financial market.
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The ESRI (Economic and Social Research Institute) says today that the Irish Economy will shrink 9.2 per cent in 2009, which will be the sharpest fall in economic growth experienced by an industrialised country since the Great Depression, Finfacts Ireland reported. The ESRI says employment in 2009 will be 187,300 lower than in 2008, on an annual average basis. The ESRI says the implications of the downturn for employment are highly negative. It expects employment in 2009 to be 187,300 lower than in 2008, on an annual average basis.
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In Spain, when the previous finance minister said there was no room for tax cuts or spending to buoy the economy, he was sacked by the prime minister. "There is room--there can't not be," new finance minister Elena Salgado said last week, in the face of a Europe-high 17% unemployment rate. But in the U.K., France and Italy, gaping budget deficits have largely ended the chance of major new tax cuts or spending . Germany says that despite expecting a 6% dive in its economy this year, it is more worried about stoking inflation in 2010.
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One of Australia's most extraordinary business stories of the past few decades is the spectacular rise and equally spectacular fall of the ABC Learning Group, analysis by The New Zealand Herald found. ABC began with one centre in Brisbane in 1988. By 2007 it had used hundreds of millions of dollars from taxpayers, shareholders and banks to grow into the world's second-biggest childcare operator with more than 2300 centres in Australia, the United States, Britain, and New Zealand. In 2007, it reported profits of more than $150 million.
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Italian car maker Fiat SpA is in talks to buy a stake in General Motors Corp.'s German-based unit Adam Opel GmbH as part of a wide-ranging strategy to become one of the world's largest auto makers, according to people familiar with the matter. Fiat Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne held talks in Berlin last week with German Economy Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, who is leading the German government's search for a new investor in Opel, one person said.
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