Headlines

Zimbabwe has reached agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on a program of economic policies and structural reforms that could pave the way to the crisis-hit country re-engaging with international financial institutions, Reuters reported. Suffering from decades of decline and hyperinflation, Zimbabwe has not been able to borrow from international lenders since 1999, when it started defaulting on its debt. It has arrears of around $2.2 billion with the World Bank, the African Development Bank and European Investment Bank.

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Canadian households are wallowing in debt. Home prices are falling. Credit growth, the key driver for bank earnings, is hovering close to its slowest pace since 1983, Bloomberg News reported. All of which should be bad news for the country’s lenders -- and good news for investors betting against them. “Should” being the operative word. Even with danger signs piling up, the shares of the six biggest Canadian banks have stubbornly refused to drop, instead surging 9.4 percent this year -- and frustrating short sellers hoping to make money on stock-price declines.

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Turkey’s lira dipped to its weakest level in more than two weeks on Thursday on concerns over the country’s dwindling net reserves, with disappointment over an economic reform plan and local election uncertainty also weighing on sentiment, Reuters reported. The lira weakened 1.2 percent to 5.75 against the dollar on Thursday after the central bank’s international net reserves fell to $27.94 billion as of April 5, from $29.72 billion a week earlier. Analysts say Turks converting their savings into foreign currencies have signaled a decline of confidence in the lira.

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Brazilian retailers B2W and Magazine Luiza confirmed in filings on Wednesday they are considering the acquisition of online shoe retailer Netshoes Ltd, Reuters reported. The deal model is still unclear. When Netshoes hired Goldman, Sachs last year, the company was seeking an investor to inject cash so it could restructure its debt. Analysts at Banco Brasil Plural said in a note to clients on Thursday that a potential acquisition would be neutral for Magazine Luiza, as the acquisition price would not strongly affect cash flow.

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India will probably see more bank mergers as digital technology transforms the industry and non-bank financing companies seek to avoid a cash crunch, according to a senior official at the nation’s largest lender, Bloomberg News reported. Finance firms that don’t take deposits “need a stable source of capital and banks can help with that,” said Dinesh Kumar Khara, a managing director at State Bank of India who has overseen about 10 mergers. “Banks also want to expand their liabilities and NBFCs can help with that,” he said in an interview.

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A proliferation of words for snow reflects the exceptional environment in which Inuit people survive. It is the same for Italian bankers, who have numerous terms for lousy loans, the Financial Times reported. Of these “unlikely to pay” is the most intriguing, implying a default may be a lifestyle choice as valid as designer spectacle frames. The category, worth about €83bn in outstanding loans, has also piqued the interest of foreign investors, including Bain, Bayview and Algebris. If they buy the debt, there could be a return in it. Everyone could end up better off.

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Greek utility Public Power Corp (PPC) is considering the securitisation of part of its backlog of unpaid bills, it said in a bourse filing on Thursday, as repayment looms next month on an existing bond, Reuters reported. Chief Executive Manolis Panagiotakis said in January that declining profit was making it harder to issue debt, but was confident PPC would repay a 350 million euro ($394 million) bond due in May. In a brief statement following a report in Ta Nea newspaper, the company said it was examining all available financing options in order to deal with overdue receivables.

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Faced with high borrowing costs and a sustained shortage of liquidity in India’s money markets, shadow banks are increasingly pitching bonds with high coupon rates to the public, who may not be aware of the risks they’re taking on, Bloomberg News reported. Still roiling from the shock of defaults at Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Ltd., non-bank financing companies are exploring this relatively expensive funding channel.

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South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s plan to split the state-owned power utility into generation, distribution and transmission divisions will take longer than the government has to revive the business, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc, Bloomberg News reported. Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. is focusing on trying to avoid implementing power cuts through the year, as it attempts to fix aging power plants and defective new units. Ramaphosa has rolled out a 69 billion-rand ($5 billion) bailout for Eskom over the next three years and a plan to split the business into three.

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Brazilian fertilizer company Fertilizantes Heringer SA proposed to repay unsecured creditors 20 percent of amounts owed them and to sell seven non-operating plants, as part of its restructuring plan, according to a securities filing on Wednesday, Reuters reported. The company filed for bankruptcy protection in February, closing nine of its plants in Brazil and laying off workers, as its liquidity situation deteriorated. Heringer’s unsecured creditors hold 1.7 billion reais of the company’s debt, the document showed. Secured creditors would be paid 60 percent what they were owed.

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