Headlines

The World Bank projects the recession in Latin America and the Caribbean will be the worst downturn since reliable data began in 1901, setting back progress on fighting inequality and poverty, Bloomberg News reported. The development institution expects a gross domestic product contraction of more than 7% for 2020, making it worse than any crisis of the past century, including the Great Depression, the 1980s debt crisis and the global financial of 2008-2009, President David Malpass said.

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Lebanese lawmakers urged the government to avoid a default on its local-currency debt and asked it to reevaluate central bank liabilities to help secure a critical bailout from the International Monetary Fund, Bloomberg News reported. Member of parliament Ibrahim Kanaan said Wednesday that the IMF held a meeting with lawmakers earlier this month and told them Lebanon faces a choice of “no reform, no program” -- referring to the $10 billion loan the government is trying to negotiate with the Washington-based lender.

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Steinhoff International, battling the fallout from a massive accounting fraud, faces legal claims amounting to more than 9 billion euros ($10.10 billion), the South African retailer’s annual report showed on Wednesday, Reuters reported. The report for the year ended September 2019 listed numerous court cases with claimants seeking more than 9 billion euros in payments or damages. It also included Steinhoff’s annual results, with the retailer’s full-year loss widening to 1.8 billion euros from a 1.2 billion loss a year earlier.

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KBBO Group, whose chairman is a significant shareholder in troubled hospital group NMC Health, said on Wednesday it had hired advisers to restructure outstanding liabilities, Reuters reported. The group has appointed Trussbridge Advisory and PwC Middle East as financial experts, while Hadef & Partners LLC and Cleary Gottlieb Steen and Hamilton LLP have been appointed as legal advisers, it said in a statement. It did not disclose its outstanding debt.

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British lender Virgin Money will restart a redundancy and branch closure programme that was paused due to the coronavirus crisis, it said on Wednesday, Reuters reported. Virgin Money said it would also press on with rebranding its Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank branches by January 2021, a plan that was shelved in May. The bank said it would make around 300 redundancies for the time being, 200 fewer than previously planned. It will also close 22 branches and consolidate a further 30, resulting in a total reduction of 52, unchanged from before.

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Dutch retailer Hema’s senior secured noteholders (SSNs) are set to take over the business through a debt-for-equity swap, as more than 80% of noteholders agreed to a debt restructuring, banking sources said, Reuters reported. On June 15 the company entered lock-up, as 100% of its RCF lenders and 62% of its €600m, 2022 SSNs agreed to the restructuring. However, a threshold of 75% of SSN support was needed before the deal could be implemented. Around 80% of SSNs now support the deal, meaning it can go ahead, one of the sources said.

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Europe’s top banking supervisor has sought to persuade more of the region’s lenders to merge by clarifying its approach to takeovers in an effort to reassure executives that such transactions will be encouraged, the Financial Times reported. European banks have fallen further behind their US and Chinese rivals in profitability and size since the 2008 financial crisis, prompting officials at the European Central Bank to make regular appeals for the fragmented sector to consolidate.

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Indian conglomerate Bharti Enterprises is backing a bid for collapsed SoftBank-backed satellite operator OneWeb, two sources said, in a consortium that is supported by the British government, Reuters reported. OneWeb filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy at the end of March after its biggest investor SoftBank Group Corp pulled funding, with an auction for the startup due to start on Thursday. London-based investment firm Unbound is run by the son of Indian telecoms tycoon Sunil Bharti Mittal, whose interests include telecoms and real estate.

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Police and public prosecutors raided Wirecard’s headquarters in Munich and four properties in German and Austria on Wednesday as they widened their investigation into the financial payments company that collapsed last week, Reuters reported. Wirecard filed for insolvency last week owing creditors almost $4 billion after disclosing a 1.9 billion euro ($2.1 billion) hole in its accounts that its auditor EY said was the result of a sophisticated global fraud.

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Ratings agency S&P Global on Wednesday slashed seven Argentine foreign-currency bonds to default, triggered by non-payment of interest, as the government remains entangled in debt negotiations with its foreign creditors, Reuters reported. S&P said it downgraded to “D” from “CC” three foreign-law foreign-currency bonds that had about $582 million in interest due at the end of June. It also downgraded four Argentine-law, U.S. dollar-denominated bonds with $837 million interest due at the end of June.

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