Europe

Slovakia-based low-cost airline SkyEurope Holding AG, which was struggling to restructure its debts, has filed for bankruptcy, according to an announcement on the Vienna bourse Web site on Tuesday, Reuters reported. The airline, which had started its operations in 2001 and flew its first passenger in February 2002, obtained a three-month creditor protection in Slovakia in June and was since trying to restructure and pay its outstanding debt.
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Germany is calling on the world’s largest economies to adopt joint measures to prevent banks from becoming “too big to fail” and holding governments to ransom in future financial crises, the Financial Times reported. Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor, said on Monday – following a meeting in Berlin with President Nicolas Sarkozy of France – that steps to prevent excessive risk-taking by large banks should rank high on the agenda of the summit of the Group of 20 largest economies in Pittsburgh later this month.
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Bankrupt Lyondell Chemical Co has sought an injunction against some of its bondholders to prevent them from collecting money when an agreement ends next month, arguing that allowing them to do so would be "disastrous" and threaten its European units, Reuters reported. Lyondell, part of the U.S. units of LyondellBasell Industries, warned in a filing on Friday in federal bankruptcy court in Manhattan that if the court did not prevent those bondholders, it could trigger a default and force its European units, which were not part of a bankruptcy in January, into insolvency.
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Nursery furniture retailer BabyCo has gone into voluntary administration and only four of the company's 22 shops in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia will remain open, Big Pond News reported. Deloitte partners Tim Norman, Sal Algeri and Simon Cathro have been appointed as voluntary administrators of the company on Friday. Mr Norman says slow sales and the competitive nature of the retail industry prompted the company to appoint administrators.
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The German government may be willing to finance a restructuring of Adam Opel GmbH to avoid an insolvency of the troubled General Motors Co. European unit, The Deal Pipeline reported. Berlin has not yet been asked but might be willing to finance a GM-led restructuring after general elections Sept. 27, Financial Times Deutschland wrote. Germany might also reportedly be willing to support a controversial offer for Opel from Brussels financial investor RHJ International SA if it promises to only hold the company temporarily or if it teams with a major auto manufacturer.
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Icelandic lawmakers began a final debate on Thursday on a politically sensitive bill to authorise paying back Britain and the Netherlands more than $5 billion lost in Icelandic deposit accounts last year, Reuters reported. Parliament is expected to approve the government-sponsored bill, the passage of which is seen as key if Iceland hopes to receive further aid from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other lenders. A majority in the Icelandic parliament's budget committee thrashed out some final amendments this week, paving the way for approval when the vote takes place.
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The German government might drop its opposition to Belgian-based financial investor RHJ International as a buyer for General Motors' European unit Opel, Bild newspaper reported on Thursday. Berlin could be willing to accept RHJ if it teamed up with an international partner from the car industry, the mass-selling daily said, without saying where it obtained the information. The German government had so far favored Canadian car-parts supplier Magna over RHJ, which aims to shrink the carmaker to return it to profit.
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General Motors Co. is now considering whether it should retain its Opel and Vauxhall operations in Europe, a strategic reversal that raises new questions about the struggling car maker's direction and creates complications with the governments of Germany and Russia, The Wall Street Journal reported.
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General Motors' new board may still sell its money-losing European Opel unit to a group led by Canadian auto parts maker Magna, but it needs guarantees that Opel's technology won't be used in Russia to compete against GM's Chevrolet, according to a person briefed on the sale talks, The Associated Press reported. The board on Friday balked at picking between bids for Adam Opel GbmH from a group led by Magna International Inc. that includes Russia's state-owned Sberbank, and one from GM's preferred bidder, Brussels-based investor RHJ International SA.
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General Motors Co is considering a plan to raise funding to keep Opel as an alternative to selling the unit to Magna International, sources with knowledge of the deliberations said on Monday, Reuters reported. The development comes against a backdrop of escalating labor tensions and political stakes over GM's slow-moving effort to sell control of Opel and its British affiliate, Vauxhall. The Obama administration pledged on Monday to stay out of GM's choice of a buyer for Opel, while union leaders in Germany put more pressure on the U.S. automaker to make a decision.
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