Headlines

Lebanon’s precarious finances mean the crisis-hit country looks likely to default on its debt in some way and could even launch a Cyprus-style grab for savers’ bank accounts, Fitch’s top sovereign analyst said, Reuters reported. Lebanon’s debt problems have jumped back into focus this week after reports emerged of a bid by authorities there to try and delay some of this year’s bond repayments.

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Recruiter Hays has warned it expects profits to slip in the first half of this year, as economic uncertainty across several key markets disrupts its business, the Financial Times reported. Hays highlighted strikes in France, the slowdown in the German economy, political uncertainty in the UK and the still-raging Australian bushfires as factors behind a “marked” slowdown in fee growth in December, in a trading update on Thursday. Together, these countries account for 45 per cent of the recruiter’s fees.

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India’s Supreme Court ruled that wireless carriers including Bharti Airtel Ltd. and Vodafone Idea Ltd. need to pay $13 billion of dues to the government, rejecting an appeal by operators struggling to stem losses and reduce debt, Bloomberg News reported. A three-judge Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra on Thursday dismissed review petitions filed by the telecommunication companies against the October verdict, according to updates on the court’s website.

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Condor, the airline that used to belong to Thomas Cook, has attracted interest from buyout groups Apollo and Greybull as well as Polish carrier LOT, which are expected to submit final bids next week, a person close to the matter said, Reuters reported. Each of the bidders could tie up with some of Germany’s leading tour operators in a potential deal to buy Condor, the person said on Thursday. Condor and Apollo declined to comment, while Greybull and LOT were not immediately available for comment.

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The agency set up five years ago to help councils increase their sources of funding by raising cheaper debt is set for its first issuance, paving the way for what cash-strapped local authorities hope will become a thriving municipal bond market in the UK, the Financial Times reported. The move by the UK Municipal Bonds Agency comes three months after the government sharply raised the interest rate on its own local authority loans — via the Public Works Loan Board (PWLB) — inspiring councils to look elsewhere for new funding streams.

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Bombardier Inc. fell the most on record after warning of disappointing fourth-quarter sales and revealing that it may exit a joint venture with Airbus SE that makes the A220 jetliner and potentially take a major writedown, Bloomberg News reported. A ramp-up in A220 production will require additional cash investment, pushing back the break-even point and generating lower returns across the lifetime of the project, Bombardier said in a statement Thursday.

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A Deutsche Bank-led consortium’s efforts to buy out the debt of a power plant operator in eastern India have advanced, after no rival bidder emerged, Bloomberg News reported. The struggling utility is Jindal India Thermal Power Ltd., one of a string of power plants being put up for sale by banks stuck with their defaulting debt. The sector has been hit hard by oversupply in recent years, a consequence of a costly push to bridge India’s once chronic power deficit and expand reach to under-supplied rural areas. Power generators form a significant chunk of India’s $130 billion bad loan pile.

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A Spanish magistrate has launched a criminal investigation into suspected account-fiddling at retailer Dia under its previous management, before Russian oligarch Mikhail Fridman took over the near-insolvent company last year, Reuters reported. Magistrate Alejandro Abascal said in court documents seen by Reuters that he was looking into whether the company’s management, including then-CEO Ricardo Curras, manipulated Dia’s pre-tax earnings data in 2017 to make it falsely appear the company had reached financial targets.

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South Africa is scrambling to secure extra funding to rescue South African Airways (SAA), which last month entered a form of bankruptcy protection in a last-ditch bid to save the state-owned company and around 10,000 related jobs, Reuters reported. Tito Mboweni, the country’s finance minister, told business leaders in Johannesburg ahead of the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos next week that the Treasury had provided “financial support to the best of our abilities”.

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Amid rising defaults and tighter liquidity for Chinese privately-owned enterprises, the nation’s banks are letting some companies fail, something Deutsche Bank AG says presents bigger opportunities for foreign investors in troubled debt, Bloomberg News reported. The German lender is an active distressed player in Asia Pacific and has bet on some of the biggest restructuring in the region, including commodities trader Noble Group Ltd. China is taking steps to allow more foreign investment into the country’s 2.37 trillion yuan ($344 billion) non-performing loan market. It will give U.S.

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