France

Shares in two of France’s biggest retailers fell sharply on Friday, as public sector strikes that have caused gridlock in Paris and other major cities weighed on earnings over the festive season, the Financial Times reported. Sprawling supermarket group Casino fell more than 10 per cent in early trading, leaving it on track for its worst day since 2015, while electronics retailer Fnac Darty fell 11 per cent.

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French marine services group Bourbon Corporation, which has been in the process of a debt restructuring, said its assets would be taken over by its creditors, Riviera Maritime Media reported. The news comes in light of Bourbon’s ongoing legal proceedings. The Commercial Court of Marseille ruled that Bourbon’s assets be transferred to Société Phocéenne de Participations (SPP) on 2 January 2020.

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French marine services group Bourbon Corporation, which has been in a court restructuring process after its business was hit by volatile energy markets, said its assets would be taken over by its creditor banks, Reuters reported. Bourbon said the Marseille commercial court had ruled that Bourbon’s assets would be transferred to Société Phocéenne de Participations (SPP) from Jan. 2, 2020.

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France’s markets watchdog AMF said on Tuesday it had fined U.S bank Morgan Stanley 20 million euros ($22 million) for manipulation of sovereign bonds, Reuters reported. AMF said the fine related to manipulating the price of 14 French government bonds (OAT) and 8 Belgian bonds (OLO) on June 16, 2015, and also of an OAT futures contract. AMF had noted a large sale of government bonds on June 16, 2015 disrupted the French MTS Global Market bond trading system, causing transactions to be suspended for four minutes and liquidity levels to drop for about an hour.
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The commercial court in Paris has given Kosc Telecom six months to find a buyer. In a statement, the wholesale operator said that it will continue to trade as normal while undergoing insolvency proceedings, Telecompaper reported. It also revealed that so far around ten companies, including financial firms, have expressed an interest in the business. At the end of October, the commercial court had given Kosc more time to repay debt owed to Altice France. Since then, the operator has been actively negotiating a way forward with shareholders and potential buyers to avoid liquidation.

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Brussels has warned France and Italy that they are running stubbornly high levels of public debt, meaning their future budgets risk breaching EU rules and alarming investors, the Financial Times reported. The European Commission on Wednesday published its opinion on the 2020 draft spending plans of all eurozone member states.

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France added to the growing chorus of lawmakers and executives seeing consolidation as an avenue to revive Europe’s ailing banks, ahead of a key meeting that may jumpstart a plan to create a single market for the industry, Bloomberg News reported. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, speaking in an interview in Paris on Tuesday, said mergers to create “critical-size, global actors” in European finance would be a “good thing.” He backed a call by German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz to complete the project for a banking union that would make such deals easier.

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Casino Gets a Short Leash

Casino Guichard-Perrachon SA  announced late Tuesday that it was working on a 3.5 billion-euro ($3.9 billion) refinancing, a Bloomberg View reported. That should be positive for the owner of France’s famous Monoprix and Franprix chains. But as usual with the sprawling retail group, there is probably more here than meets the eye. At first glance the move looks like sensible balance sheet management. The company has about 500 million euros of bonds maturing in March 2020, and more over the next few years. But the refinancing comes at a price.

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Casino, the French retailer, has moved to further boost its financial position by raising €1.5bn in bank loans and extending its debt maturities for four years. The company said after the market closed on Tuesday that it is raising €1.5bn in new financing in order to refinance part of its existing debt, the Financial Times reported. The group is also working to agree a new syndicated revolving facility for about €2bn, which will mature in October 2023. It said that it has already received commitments for more than €1.6bn from 14 French and international banks.

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