Headlines

The U.K. government is loosening its bankruptcy rules to allow struggling businesses to continue trading if they can’t pay their debts because of the impact of the coronavirus. In another sign of how the pandemic is forcing governments to upend policy, Business Secretary Alok Sharma said the changes would allow British companies being reorganized to access supplies and raw materials, and not be placed into administration by creditors. There will also be a clause that temporarily removes the threat of personal liability for company directors during the pandemic.

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Lebanon kicked off talks to restructure its $90 billion debt pile on Friday with a promise to present a comprehensive recovery plan for its “broken” economy before the end of this year, Bloomberg News reported. In a video presentation to bondholders, Lebanon’s top finance officials said the economic overhaul would require external funding, but did not set concrete targets for cutting the deficit or restoring growth and spoke only in general terms about the steps required.

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South Africa’s banking regulator plans to give banks a break from accounting and capital rules that could release around 300 billion rand ($17 billion) for lending to help the economy cope with the fallout of the coronavirus, Bloomberg News reported. “It’s quite big, it’s quite meaningful,” said Kuben Naidoo, deputy governor of the South African Reserve Bank and chief executive officer of the Prudential Authority, in an interview.

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Like millions of people around the world, Zhang Chunzi borrowed money she thought she’d be able to repay before the coronavirus changed everything, Bloomberg News reported. Now laid off from her job at an apparel exporter in Hangzhou -- one of China’s most prosperous cities -- the 23-year-old is missing payments on 12,000 yuan ($1,700) of debt from her credit card and an online lending platform operated by Jack Ma’s Ant Financial. “I’m late on all the bills and there’s no way I can pay my debt in full,” Zhang said.

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Alitalia’s administrator has asked Italy’s government to raise to nearly 7,000 the number of its employees under a temporary lay-off scheme, with most of its aircraft standing idle during the coronavirus outbreak, Reuters reported. The request for 2,900 more workers to join the scheme came on Thursday in a letter sent by the state-appointed administrator to unions and government ministries and seen by Reuters. Alitalia’s total workforce is around 11,600.

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Ukraine’s largest private power producer DTEK is suspending interest payings on Eurobonds and bank loans and will ask creditors to restructure some of its debt due to the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, it said on Saturday, Reuters reported. Ukraine has reported 311 cases of coronavirus, including 8 deaths, and the government last week declared an emergency across the whole country for the next 30 days.

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Cracks are appearing across the emerging-market landscape like never before. As most nations brace themselves for a likely surge in coronavirus cases through April, the signals from the developing world could hardly be more worrying for investors, Bloomberg News reported. Indexes of stocks, bonds and currencies may have risen last week as countries from India and Brazil to South Africa enacted unprecedented measures to buttress their economies, but the retreat on Friday was a reminder the turmoil is far from over.

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OneWeb, the satellite operator backed by Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp, said it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy to pursue a sale of its business and has cut its workforce amid the coronavirus outbreak, Reuters reported. OneWeb is in negotiations for debtor-in-possession financing, which if acquired and approved by the court will support its ongoing business, the company said in a statement that did not mention how many jobs were being cut.

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HOOQ Digital, a video streaming service majority owned by Singapore Telecommunications Ltd, said it was filing for liquidation as it had not been able to grow sufficiently to provide sustainable returns nor cover escalating costs, Reuters reported. HOOQ was started as a joint venture in 2015 between Singtel, Sony Pictures Television and Warner Bros Entertainment. But it has failed to make major gains as larger rivals such as Netflix Inc expanded in the region.

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Limitless World LLC is close to hiring financial and legal advisers for the Dubai-based developer’s third restructuring as the emirate’s on-going property slump is set to worsen, Bloomberg News reported. The company told creditors that it’s in the “final stages” of engaging advisers to work on a restructuring plan as it’s “unable to pay accrued profit at the end of March,” according to a letter sent to banks and seen by Bloomberg. Limitless’ board has recently been reorganized to comprise three members, who are being advised “on all matters” by a team from Dubai World, the letter said.

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