Headlines

Eurozone companies’ demand for bank loans has fallen for the first time in six years, in a worrying sign for the region’s faltering economy and the European Central Bank’s attempt to stimulate more lending, the Financial Times reported. Loan demand fell in the fourth quarter because of lower investment needs and wider availability of alternative finance, according to an ECB survey of 144 banks. The biggest fall was in Spain, with a smaller decline in France. Demand from German companies was still up while in Italy it was flat.

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Wang Yizhi sensed an opening last July when local investors raced to dump the debt of Future Land Development, a Shanghai-based developer, after the arrest of its founder on sexual abuse charges, the Financial Times reported. Shortly after the scandal broke, Mr Wang, general manager of Raman Capital, bought four-year bonds for 88 cents on the dollar. Within weeks, he had sold them for 95 cents, after the developer put dozens of projects on sale to improve its cash flows.

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Egypt expects its domestic reforms to spur private investment whether or not it agrees on a non-financial International Monetary Fund program, a decision that will be made “soon,” Planning and Economic Development Minister Hala El-Saeed said, Bloomberg News reported. “Now is the time for the private sector,” said El-Saeed in an interview in London late Monday, while at a U.K.-organized conference to boost investment in Africa.

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The High Court has approved a Personal Insolvency Arrangement (PIA) allowing a man to write down almost all of his €60 million debts, The Irish Times reported…Mr Justice Mark Sanfey approved a PIA in respect of Enda Patrick Whelan of College Grove, Ennis, Co Clare. Mr Whelan’s creditors include National Asset Loan Management (NALM), a Nama company, which was owed some €56.4 million arising out of personal guarantees he had given in respect of four companies owned by his family.

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A $21 Billion Telco War Comes Down to $2

India’s great telecom melee was bad enough as a brawl between service providers and the state, with operators complaining about the government’s outlandish claims on their past revenue, Bloomberg News reported in a commentary. Now, consumers have jumped into the fray. A confusing three-cornered fight could lead to ugly outcomes: The country’s broken financial system would take a fresh hit; new 5G networks could be delayed; and the government’s annual revenue from the sector might get squeezed.

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A financial crisis at South African Airways deepened Tuesday as a funding squeeze forced the national carrier to cancel several domestic and international flights. Eight flights between Johannesburg and Cape Town will be cut this week, and 20 between Johannesburg and Durban, the carrier said in an emailed statement. It also canceled 10 flights between Johannesburg and Munich, Bloomberg News reported. The move is “in line with SAA’s usual policy of reviewing flights and consolidating services with low demand,” and is aimed at saving money, the carrier said.

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Swedish oil refiner Nynas, which is owned by Venezuela’s state-run PDVSA and Finland’s Neste Oil, said on Tuesday it planned to reorganize its business in an attempt to disentangle itself from U.S. sanctions imposed on Venezuela, Reuters reported. Nynas said the proposed changes to its ownership structure, backed by both PDVSA and Neste Oil, were filed with the United States’ Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) on January 17.

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Less than a month into 2020, South African companies have already announced thousands of job cuts. In a country where a third of the labor force is already unemployed, this will put even more strain on demand and economic growth, Bloomberg News reported. Almost 6,000 jobs are at risk as companies including Telkom SA SOC Ltd., the country’s largest fixed-line operator, and Walmart Inc.’s local unit Massmart Holdings Ltd. plan to reduce their headcount after slumps in earnings. That’s after Sibanye Gold Ltd.

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Argentina will send a bill to Congress on Tuesday outlining a plan to address the debt crisis and make payments “sustainable,” Economy Minister Martin Guzman said, Bloomberg News reported. South America’s second-largest economy isn’t able to pay its debt under current conditions and will look to either alter maturity dates, interest rates or outstanding capital amounts, Guzman said. Exact details of the proposal will have to wait, he said, though the bill will cover foreign law bonds as well.

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Lebanese authorities will be reluctant to announce a default on debt payments until a functioning government is formed, pushing back any plans for a bond restructuring to later this year, according to Oxford Economics, Bloomberg News reported. Investors can reap a 13% return by buying Lebanon’s dollar-denominated note due March 9, London-based strategist Nafez Zouk said in an emailed note. While there’s an 85% probability those bonds will be repaid at maturity, dwindling foreign-currency reserves mean a default may still be announced in the second half of 2020, Zouk said.

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