Headlines

The International Bank of Azerbaijan (IBA) is working with a consultant to prepare a recovery strategy ahead of its privatisation, the head of its supervisory board said. State-run IBA restructured its $3.3 billion in international debt in 2017 after receiving approval from creditors, Reuters reported. “We are currently working with a well-known international consultant company on a business strategy for a recovery of the International Bank and are going to begin its implementation this year,” Shahmar Movsumov said.

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A commercial court in Dammam has rejected an application by the conglomerate Ahmad Hamad Algosaibi and Brothers (AHAB) to settle its debt under a new Saudi bankruptcy law, AHAB told Reuters on Wednesday. AHAB was the first high-profile company to file for a settlement under Saudi Arabia’s bankruptcy law, which came into effect in August last year, part of reforms aimed at attracting foreign investment and reducing the economy’s dependence on oil, Reuters reported.

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China's bad debt managers, whom Beijing hopes to play a key role in resolving financial risks, are in danger of becoming bad credits themselves as the leverage crackdown that fuelled a boom in their business now threatens their own access to funding, the International New York Times reported on a Reuters story. The practice of buying banks' non-performing loans (NPLs) at a discount and recovering them for a profit has grown rapidly in China since 2016.

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It was supposed to be the year when it all came together for Ireland’s banks, with the wind in their sales from a booming economy, newly privatised Allied Irish Banks at full throttle and dividends finding their way into the hands of patient shareholders. Instead, 2018 saw 30 per cent wiped off the market value of Ireland’s two big banks — AIB and Bank of Ireland — as both partially state-owned lenders were hit by Brexit uncertainty and fears over core profitability, the Financial Times reported.

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Global banks moving operations from the U.K. to the European Union because of Brexit are poised to face fresh regulatory scrutiny on the value of their assets and capital as the bloc’s top watchdog seeks to curtail risks, Bloomberg News reported. The European Central Bank and national authorities will conduct an in-depth review of the largest firms’ balance sheets, including their most illiquid assets, Ed Sibley, a member of the ECB supervisory board, said in an interview.

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South African power utility Eskom needs a cash injection by April to survive, the country’s public enterprises ministry warned in a presentation on Wednesday, although it later changed its wording to say the firm was “facing liquidity challenges,” Reuters reported. State-owned Eskom, which supplies more than 90 percent of the power in Africa’s most industrialised economy, cut electricity for a fourth straight day on Wednesday.

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Prathap C. Reddy and his family, founders of India’s Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Ltd., plan to sell their holdings in an insurance venture with Munich Re AG to repay debt, people with knowledge of the matter said. The family is seeking to sell its entire holding of 41 percent in Apollo Munich Health Insurance Co., for about 12 billion rupees ($170 million) in six months, the people said asking not to be identified as the discussions are private, Bloomberg News reported.

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China’s state planning agency will investigate corporate bond issuers’ ability to repay maturing notes, a sign of Beijing’s concern about financial risks amid a slowing economy and tight liquidity that has made refinancing difficult for many borrowers, the Financial Times reported. Chinese bond defaults reached an all-time high last year, and issuers are facing a wave of maturities in 2019. A series of high-profile defaults in recent weeks have shaken market confidence.

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The French government is considering buying out minority shareholders of Electricite de France SA, the first step in a corporate restructuring to address the challenge of replacing the country’s nuclear-power backbone, people familiar with the matter said, Bloomberg News reported. The government has asked EDF, of which it owns 84 percent, to propose changes in its structure. The utility’s cash flows are vulnerable to volatile power prices and intensifying competition, and it’s already struggling to fund billions of euros of investments to maintain or replace its aging reactors.

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Italy is willing to support the creation of a “New Alitalia” in the latest attempt to help revive the struggling carrier, the prime minister’s office said in a statement on Wednesday. Alitalia was put under special administration in 2017 after workers rejected its latest rescue plan, leaving the government once again seeking a buyer to save the carrier, Reuters reported. It will be the airline’s third rescue in a decade.

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