Europe

Reinsurers have bumped up prices for offshore energy-related insurance premiums by 50 percent following insurance industry losses of up to $3.5 billion from the BP plc oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Moody's Investor Service said in a report on Thursday, Reuters reported. Total insured losses from the worst oil spill in U.S. history are expected to be between $1.4 billion and $3.5 billion, although losses would be significantly higher if BP had purchased liability insurance instead of self-insuring its risks through its captive insurance programme, said Moody's.
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TNK-BP, a joint venture between Britain's BP and a group of Russian billionaires, said on Thursday that its unit which holds the license to the vast Kovykta gas field had filed for bankruptcy, Agence France-Presse reported. TNK-BP said the RUSIA Petroleum unit is unable to pay off debts to its parent company. "The current financial situation precludes RUSIA Petroleum from timely repayment of its loans to TNK-BP Group," the company said in a statement. The loans were made to the subsidiary to finance the development of the vast Kovykta gas field, it said.
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As the European Union's executive arm introduced a raft of policy ideas aimed at improving management of banks, European governments weighed in with proposals that illustrate ongoing tensions between national and international efforts at financial regulation, The Wall Street Journal reported. The swirl of sometimes contradictory proposals to stave off future financial crises came out of Europe ahead of a meeting this week of finance ministers of the Group of 20 leading economies to discuss financial regulation in Busan, South Korea.
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Department store chain Karstadt's insolvency administrator has met with German retailer Metro, a spokesman for the adminstrator said on Wednesday, The Guardian reported on a Reuters story. Metro has said repeatedly over the past year it could be interested in acquiring some of Karstadt's 120 stores to beef up Kaufhof, which it wants to sell to focus on the its wholesale cash & carry and its consumer electronics business. The spokesman was responding to a report from German newspaper publisher WAZ-Mediengruppe that Metro was in talks over Karstadt.
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Germany's biggest cable network provider Kabel Deutschland Holding AG said Tuesday it is interested in buying assets from peer PrimaCom AG, which may face insolvency. PrimaCom has 700,000 to 800,000 customers in the area where Kabel Deutschland operates, a Kabel Deutschland spokeswoman told Dow Jones Newswires. Germany's three major cable network companies, Kabel Deutschland, Unitymedia--a unit of Liberty Global inc.
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Caught between a populace resistant to more austerity measures and investors demanding budget cuts and more flexible labor markets, the Spanish government is finding it increasingly difficult to keep a grip on power, The New York Times reported. Last week, the government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero narrowly won approval for an extra 15 billion euros, or $18.4 billion, in spending cuts — in an effort to bring the budget deficit down to 6 percent of the national economic output by 2011, from 11 percent last year. With labor unions and business leaders at loggerheads, Mr.
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A restructuring deal at General Motors' loss-making European carmaker Opel was signed into effect on Monday, aimed at saving 265 million euros ($325 million) in annual wage costs through 2014, labour leader Klaus Franz said. After drafting a master agreement on May 21, European union and workforce representatives from countries hosting Opel's major manufacturing plants also signed the deal with Opel Chief Executive Nick Reilly, Reuters reported.
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Switzerland suffered the highest rise in bankruptcy proceedings in ten years in 2009, according to the Federal Statistics Office, swissinfo.ch reported. The number of proceedings opened against businesses or individuals rose to around 11,600, up eight per cent on 2008 - a “marked increase”, the office said on Monday. In addition, 2.5 million formal notices to pay were issued, just over two per cent more than in the previous year. All regions saw a rise in bankruptcies, but Italian-speaking Ticino, financial centre Zurich and central Switzerland suffered the largest increases.
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In the latest indication that European banks are in ill health, the European Central Bank warned late Monday that euro-zone banks face €195 billion ($239.26 billion) in write-downs this year and the next due to an economic outlook that remained "clouded by uncertainty,” The Wall Street Journal reported. The ECB news, part of its semiannual financial-stability report, comes on the heels of a campaign by governments and central banks to ease sovereign-debt problems in southern Europe. The efforts have failed to calm worries that a banking crisis may be forming on the Continent.
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A German court on Monday postponed its ruling on the insolvency plan of German department store chain Karstadt to next week as the search for a new investor is taking longer than expected, Reuters reported. The district court in Essen had initially planned to rule on Monday whether Karstadt's insolvency plan was viable, but postponed its decision to June 10 after a committee of Karstadt's creditors said it needed more time to assess bids. The committee originally wanted to pick an investor on Friday, but then moved the date to June 9.
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