Headlines

Norway backed Norwegian Air’s survival plan on Thursday as Industry Minister Iselin Nyboe said that the government had no intention of being a shareholder but would stump up cash if private investors did too, Reuters reported. The heavily indebted budget carrier, which has been forced to ground all but six of its 138 aircraft due to the coronavirus crisis, asked the government for help last week. Norwegian was granted bankruptcy protection by courts in Ireland and Norway last year as it seeks to shed much of its debt. It plans to end its long-haul service.

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Europe’s downtown office buildings are empty, and malls and main streets are deserted, yet the biggest landlords are staying afloat during the Covid-19 pandemic thanks to robust central-bank buying of bonds backed by property debt, the Wall Street Journal reported. Some worry that the policy is obscuring long-term pain should workers and shoppers never return in their pre-coronavirus numbers.

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Turkey’s central bank left its benchmark interest rate unchanged at 17% at the first monetary policy meeting of the year, pledging to keep it elevated for an “extended” period, Bloomberg News reported. The lira rose. The Monetary Policy Committee’s decision was in line with the forecasts of most analysts in a Bloomberg survey. The dissenters, including economists at Morgan Stanley and Societe Generale SA, had predicted an increase of 50 to 100 basis points.

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Poland’s MBank SA and ING Bank Slaski SA are recognizing potential losses from legal battles over Swiss-franc loans, moving the industry closer to resolving a dispute that has long clouded its prospects, Bloomberg News reported. The unit of Commerzbank AG set aside a record 439.5 million zloty ($118 million) to cover risks from its foreign-currency mortgages in the final three months of 2020, likely putting the lender in red for the quarter.

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KLM said that it would cut an additional 1,000 jobs in 2021 and warned on Thursday that government plans to require all passengers and crew to pass a COVID-19 test before flying to the Netherlands would ground its long-haul flights, Reuters reported. KLM, which already cut 5,000 jobs last year, joined other airlines operating in the Netherlands to criticise a proposed requirement for all inbound passengers to show a negative result from a “fast” COVID-19 test taken within four hours of boarding a plane.

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Britain’s first weeks of doing business outside of the EU have been mixed, as goods from large companies mainly sail through ports but many small businesses struggle with the new post-Brexit rules, the Wall Street Journal reported. Still, the true test of the U.K.’s new relationship with the EU will come in the next few weeks, say trade experts and companies, as shipment volumes increase and the difference between teething problems and permanent obstacles becomes more apparent at one of the world’s biggest trade borders.

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The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Fair Business Banking, supported by law firm Humphries Kerstetter LLP, is to conduct an in-depth investigation into standards in the UK insolvency profession, AccountancyAge.com reported. The APPG on Fair Business Banking is concerned there might be systemic issues with how the corporate insolvency sector is regulated after hearing a number of worrying cases, according to Heather Buchanan, executive director, policy and strategy at the APPG.

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U.S. President Joe Biden on Wednesday formally revoked the permit needed to build the Keystone XL oil pipeline (KXL), dashing Ottawa’s hopes of salvaging the $8 billion project that the struggling Canadian crude sector has long supported, Reuters reported. The move represents another set-back for the beleaguered Canadian oil industry, in particular its energy heartland Alberta, kills thousands of jobs, and marks an early bump in Biden’s relationship with Canada, a key trading partner.

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The biggest labor group at South Africa’s Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. blamed “poor leadership” for ongoing nationwide power cuts, a discordant sign as the utility embarks on a plan to become profitable again, Bloomberg News reported. The National Union of Mineworkers is “very disappointed with the performance” of Eskom Chief Executive Officer Andre de Ruyter and the lack of a plan to prevent outages, it said Thursday in a statement. The group also continues to oppose the use of independent electricity producers, which Eskom is counting on to help increase generation.

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Brazilian right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro on Wednesday wrote to newly inaugurated U.S. President Joe Biden that he hoped the two countries would pursue a broad free trade agreement during Biden’s tenure, Reuters reported. The letter is Bolsonaro’s most amicable overture yet to Biden, a Democrat. The Brazilian president was a close ally of former Republican President Donald Trump and refused for weeks to accept the result of the Nov. 3 U.S. election, repeating baseless allegations of fraud. It took him 42 days to recognize Biden’s victory.

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