Headlines

Two of the UK’s largest peer-to-peer platforms are “urgently” seeking access to government schemes and financing to help them keep lending, as the coronavirus pandemic increases the risk of loan defaults by individuals and small businesses, the Financial Times reported. RateSetter, one of the UK’s biggest P2P lenders with more than £800m on its loan book, has called on the Bank of England and the Treasury to allow it access to stimulus schemes that provide liquidity to banks.

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India will suspend all domestic flights from midnight Tuesday, the final piece of a nationwide lockdown that threatens Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s attempts to revive an economy already expanding at the slowest pace in more than a decade, Bloomberg News reported. The open-ended flight ban compliments a nationwide cancellation of all passenger trains, as authorities try to halt the spread of the coronavirus in the world’s second-most populous nation, and one which has poorly equipped hospitals and inadequate social security.

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Burger King, Carluccio’s and Yo! Sushi are among hundreds of businesses in the UK planning to withhold rents this week as they battle to conserve cash to survive the coronavirus outbreak, the Financial Times reported. Alasdair Murdoch, chief executive of Burger King UK, said he would skip rent payments due on the chain’s more than 500 British restaurants to free up funds to pay staff, after the government announced that those who did not pay would not forfeit their lease.

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Consumer confidence plummeted to a five-year low in the eurozone this month, according to new data from the European Commission that give a first glimpse of the economic toll that efforts to tackle the coronavirus pandemic are taking, the Financial Times reported. The commission’s eurozone flash consumer confidence indicator fell a record 5 points to minus 11.6, its lowest level since 2014 and below its long-term average. The wider gauge of EU consumer confidence dropped 4.5 points, back  to its long-term average of minus 10.4.

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Property developers across India’s big cities have been asked to ensure their laborers have enough to eat, even though construction may have halted under a government-imposed lockdown to fight the coronavirus outbreak, Bloomberg News reported. The Hiranandani Group has organized 15 days of food rations for more than 4,000 laborers across sites. Oberoi Realty Ltd. will continue to pay its staff, and Boman Irani, vice president at the Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Associations of India, said large contracting companies, such as Larsen & Toubro Ltd.

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Argentina’s plans to restructure more than $100bn of private sector debt have been thrown into disarray by the coronavirus pandemic, which is threatening to plunge the country’s already struggling economy into an even deeper recession, the Financial Times reported. While the crisis that has hit global investments could make creditors less willing to compromise, analysts warn, it could also embolden the government to push for a harsher deal, raising the chances of a disorderly default.

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Lebanon will begin the process of restructuring its roughly $30 billion of Eurobonds with an investor presentation on March 27, despite the coronavirus outbreak roiling global markets and paralyzing travel, Bloomberg News reported. The government, which defaulted this month, asked its financial adviser, Lazard Ltd., to initiate talks with investors, the Finance Ministry said in a statement Monday. The government “is developing a sustainable macroeconomic plan to redress the Lebanese economy,” the ministry said.

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Laura Ashley Holdings said on Monday it will permanently shut 70 stores and cut hundreds of jobs as the struggling fashion retailer appointed administrators following a damaging blow to its business from the coronavirus pandemic, Reuters reported. The pandemic has compounded challenges faced by British retailers. Laura Ashley, a favourite of late Princess Diana in its 1980s heyday, has seen sales fall, store closures and weakness at its home furnishings business.

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Turkish banks on Monday offered customers some relief from debt repayments and pledged more cash, the latest steps in the campaign to limit the economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak, Bloomberg News reported. State lenders including Ziraat Bank, Halkbank and Vakifbank allowed clients to postpone repaying debt by three months. Banks also pledged to restructure existing loans to give companies grace periods of as long as 12 months when they aren’t required to make any payments.

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Ecuador’s Congress called on the government to suspend debt payments to free up cash to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, prompting JPMorgan Chase & Co. to warn of a potential default as soon as Tuesday, Bloomberg News reported. The South American nation’s $3 billion of bonds due in 2028 fell 3.5 cents to a record low 31 cents on the dollar, pushing yields to 33%. Ecuador has about $320 million of debt due tomorrow and coupon payments later this week.

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