Headlines

The directors of Australian structured-finance firm Allco Finance Group Ltd. said Tuesday they have placed the firm in voluntary administration, after failing to reach agreement with bankers over further debt extensions, the Wall Street Journal Asia reported yesterday. Under Australian law, voluntary administration is an alternative to the traditional options of liquidation and straight receivership for a company that can't repay its debts.
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The International Monetary Fund on Wednesday approved a $16.5 billion loan program for Ukraine that includes monetary and exchange rate policy shifts to ease strains from the global financial crisis, Reuters reported yesterday. The IMF said it would immediately disburse $4.5 billion to the government under the two-year loan agreement.
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CAI, the consortium of Italian investors set up to salvage bankrupt airline Alitalia, would take on debts and make cash payments for a total of 1 billion euros ($1.29 billion) in return for taking ownership, Associated Press reported today. CAI will take on more than 625 million euros ($800 million) of Alitalia's debt, about half of what the company owes. The rest of the deal will be settled in cash, with a first installment of 100 million euros ($129 million) to be paid on the day the agreement is signed, Alitalia said in a statement issued late Wednesday.
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Officials from four Nordic central banks and finance ministries held a private meeting in Stockholm on Wednesday to discuss their contributions to a $6 billion rescue package for Iceland, the Financial Times reported. The gathering was a strong sign that Denmark, Sweden and Finland are drawing closer to announcing a multibillion euro package of loans after Norway agreed a €500m ($648m, £405m) advance last week. The four Nordic nations have said they are willing to support Iceland but only after it agreed to design and implement an economic stabilisation plan in association with the IMF.
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Iran's banks may have escaped the global financial crisis because of their international isolation, but they are suffering from a different kind of credit crunch, the Financial Times reported yesterday. The country's 17 state and private banks are struggling with credit shortages that have brought them close to insolvency. The largest banks--Melli, Saderat and Sepath--have been hit with UN and US sanctions over the past two years, over alleged links with Iran's nuclear and missile programmes.
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Smaller company insolvencies are set to rise by a "catastrophic" rate of 41 per cent by the end of next year compared with where they were at the end of 2007, according to a survey by R3, a trade body for insolvency practitioners. The findings, part of a poll of 2,073 of R3's members last month, suggest that the number of insolvencies are likely to approach peak levels last seen during the 1992 recession, the Financial Times reported yesterday.
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