Germany

German prosecutors suspect Wirecard AG extended large loans to partner companies before its implosion in June, at a time when the payments company was already facing media reports alleging accounting fraud, Bloomberg News reported. The prosecutors surmise the loans by the disgraced German firm may have been unsecured and may have been made to partner companies in Dubai, Singapore and the Philippines, a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified discussing the private information said.

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Deutsche Lufthansa AG warned that compulsory dismissals are likely in Germany amid slow progress in talks with unions, stiffening its tone as it braces for years of reduced demand, Bloomberg News reported. Europe’s biggest airline posted an adjusted operating loss of 1.7 billion euros ($2 billion) in the second quarter -- its biggest ever -- wrapping up a dismal set of results for carriers in the region after the coronavirus grounded virtually all passenger flights.

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Wirecard AG’s spectacular collapse is leaving a gaping hole in the income statements of its European banks, Bloomberg News reported. While only three of the biggest lenders to the German payments company have reported earnings so far, all wrote down virtually their entire exposure. Commerzbank AG and ING Groep NV each took a hit of about 175 million euros ($207 million), according to people familiar with the matter, more than half of their profit for the second quarter. Credit Agricole SA suffered a loss of about 110 million euros.

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Commerzbank took a greater hit from the collapse of Wirecard in the second quarter than from the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, according to people familiar with the matter, the Financial Times reported. Germany's second-largest listed lender, which is embroiled in a leadership crisis after both its chairman and chief executive announced plans to resign last month, wrote off €175m of loans it made to the defunct payments provider, which filed for insolvency in June.

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The German body in charge of regulating auditors is examining the work of EY, the auditor that approved the books of collapsed payment services firm Wirecard, the German Economy Ministry said on Monday, Reuters reported. The ministry said Auditors’ Regulator (Apas) had upgraded a preliminary investigation that had been running since October 2019, when the Financial Times first reported allegations of fraud at Wirecard, into a full formal regulatory inquiry.

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The Wirecard AG scandal could spark a revamp of how the European Union carries out financial supervision, top official Valdis Dombrovskis told the Financial Times, Bloomberg News reported. The German tech company’s collapse shows that previous attempts to bolster financial watchdogs in Brussels were a “missed opportunity” and need another push, according to Dombrovskis, the European Commission’s executive vice-president for economic policy. “We are looking at how we can strengthen the system to avoid that kind of situation happening again,” he said in an FT report published Sunday.

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Germany’s gross domestic product shrank at the fastest pace in half a century in the second quarter of 2020, according to preliminary data that confirm the depth of the recession in Europe’s largest economy, the Financial Times reported. GDP contracted 10.1 per cent quarter-on-quarter, the largest decline since quarterly calculations began in 1970 — and far bigger than the fall at the height of the global financial crisis, the national statistical agency said on Tuesday.

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Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof, Germany’s biggest department store – alongside eight affiliated companies – filed for administrative insolvency earlier this year after announcing they would close 62 out of 172 branches and make 8,000 of the approximately 30,000 employees redundant, Lawyer Monthly reported. The management agreed on the corresponding social collective agreements with the unions Verdi and NGG shortly before the protective shield procedure – which was sought by the company early April due to the impact of Coronavirus – was completed.

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Creditors of insolvent German lead producer Weser-Metall have decided to start exclusive talks about selling the plant to commodity group Glencore, the creditors said on Tuesday. Glencore said it had no comment, Reuters reported. Weser-Metall GmbH in Nordenham produces about 105,000 tonnes of lead annually and is one of Europe’s main lead producers. It filed for insolvency in May after the coronavirus crisis cut metal demand. Weser-Metall, previously part of French metals producer Recylex, stopped production over the weekend.

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German payments company Wirecard has hired Alix Partners for a forensic investigation of the accounting scandal that led to its collapse, people close to the matter said, Reuters reported. The blue-chip company filed for insolvency last month, owing creditors almost $4 billion after disclosing a 1.9 billion euro ($2.17 billion) hole in its accounts that auditor EY said was the result of a sophisticated global fraud.

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