Europe

Initial data on British third-quarter growth showed the economy there remained mired in recession, while releases from the euro area Friday presented a picture of steadily improving activity, The New York Times reported. The large debt burden on British consumers is the main reason for the divergent performance, analysts said. A preliminary release from the Office of National Statistics in London showed gross domestic product contracted by 0.4 percent between July and September from the previous three months and shrank by 5.2 percent compared with a year earlier.
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Postal and logistics company Deutsche Post AG said Thursday that its DHL express unit is expected to lose 400 jobs in Germany after the closure of mail-order business Quelle, part of bankrupt retailer Arcandor AG, Forbes reported on an Associated Press story. The Bonn-based Post said it planned to close three German logistics locations in Bochum, Nuremberg and Lehrte that worked as the sole logistics provider for Quelle. It was still unclear when the DHL employees would lose their positions, Deutsche Post said.
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More than $3 billion can be paid back to hedge fund clients of Lehman Brothers, a London judge ruled on Wednesday, the latest in a string of court cases triggered by the investment bank's failure, Reuters reported. Administrators of Lehman Brothers' London operations, PricewaterhouseCoopers, asked the London high court for a ruling on how to treat cash raised after Lehman collapsed.
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Canadians are being urged to pay close attention to the plight of workers from bankrupt Nortel Networks Corp. because it could some day be their own story, The Toronto Star reported. With many company pension plans across the country underfunded, workers could easily see their pensions and other benefits reduced dramatically or disappear if their employer closes the doors for good. Ken Georgetti, president of the Canadian Labour Congress, predicted that pension and benefit protections will be front and centre in the next federal election.
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France Telecom said on Tuesday it would put off any restructuring of sites or offices in France until the end of the year, meeting a demand from labour unions, Reuters reported. The telecom operator has suffered a series of suicides among its workers that has seen 25 people take their own lives since the beginning of 2008. Labour unions blame ongoing cost-cutting and restructuring for creating poor working conditions that are pushing some workers to the edge.
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Russia's AvtoVAZ could face bankruptcy if it is unable to reach a debt restructuring deal with its banks, despite support from its 25 percent stakeholder Renault, Reuters reported. Speaking during a presentation at AvtoVAZ headquarters in Togliatti, a company official said the future of the Lada-maker remained on the line and said the company has 22,000 extra staff on its payroll that are not anticipated to have any work before 2012.
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France is considering levying a new charge on its banks, in the latest effort by a government to recoup money spent over the past year to bail out the financial sector, The Wall Street Journal reported. According to the Finance Ministry, the government plans to introduce a fee on banks and insurers registered in France to help pay for the cost of financial supervision. A Finance Ministry spokesman said the amount and form of the new fee hadn't been set.
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Ukrainian state energy firm Naftogaz, battered by higher gas import prices and the country's deep recession, said on Monday investors in its $500 million Eurobond had agreed to its restructuring terms, Reuters reported. The company, often at the centre of energy rows with Russia that have previously led to supply cuts to Europe, wants to swap its entire foreign debt -- including the Eurobond -- for a new 5-year issue worth $1.65 billion. Bondholders gathered in London in Monday after weeks of consideration and overwhelmingly approved the new terms.
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Attempts to rescue Quelle, the German mail order company founded in 1927, have failed and it now looks set to be liquidated, causing the loss of thousands of jobs, Spiegel Online reported. No investor could be found after parent company Arcandor filed for insolvency in June. The news has shocked the retailer's workforce. Quelle's parent company, Arcandor, filed for insolvency in June after its request for state aid was rejected.
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DSB Bank NV's Chief Executive Dirk Scheringa on Monday called for a parliamentary investigation into the role played in its collapse by the Dutch finance ministry and Dutch central bank, Dow Jones reported. Scheringa said he may appeal the Amsterdam court's decision to declare DSB Bank bankrupt following a run on deposits. He claimed that the finance ministry and central bank disregarded a new business model DSB Bank wanted to launch, funded by a one-time government loan of €100 million.
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