Headlines

Consumer prices in the eurozone rose by 1 per cent in the year to August, unchanged from a month earlier and well below the level targeted by the European Central Bank, the Financial Times reported. The single currency bloc’s central bank targets a level of below, but close to, 2 per cent. Excluding food, energy, alcohol and tobacco — which tend to have relatively volatile prices — the eurozone’s monthly harmonised prices series rose 0.2 per cent in August, the region’s statistics office said on Friday, in line with analysts’ expectations — up from a 0.6 per cent decline in July.

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Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct is funding a legal challenge against Debenhams to drive it out of business and “pick up its assets on the cheap”, it was claimed in the High Court on Monday, the Financial Times reported. Sports Direct, founded by billionaire Mr Ashley, is financing a High Court lawsuit brought by six landlords that are challenging restructuring proposals which the UK retailer’s creditors overwhelmingly approved in May after Debenhams was bought out of administration by its lenders.

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President Mauricio Macri’s administration is preparing to send plans to Congress on Monday to reschedule Argentina’s long-term debt, after rating agencies said the country had defaulted on its short-term obligations last week, the Financial Times reported. The measures are part of Mr Macri’s attempts to stave off a full-blown debt crisis by changing the repayments schedule for up to $50bn of obligations.

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The UK government will hold an emergency meeting with senior bankers in Westminster next Thursday to try to co-ordinate plans to limit the impact of a no-deal Brexit on small businesses, the Financial Times reported. Andrea Leadsom, the business secretary, Michael Gove, the minister in charge of no-deal preparations, and City minister John Glen are all expected to attend, along with executives from the country’s largest business lenders and industry group UK Finance, according to multiple people briefed on the meeting.

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Lebanon’s central bank has secured up to $1.4 billion in five-year deposits from private investors overseas, boosting dollar reserves in one of the world’s most-indebted countries and easing concerns that it could struggle to repay its debts and defend its currency, Bloomberg News reported. Governor Riad Salameh said in an interview with Bloomberg TV in Beirut that Banque du Liban remains committed to preserving the Lebanese pound’s peg of about 1,507.5 to the dollar, in place for more than two decades, and has “ample” cash to do so.

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India’s biggest bank overhaul in decades may hurt the nation’s bad loan clean-up and slow the lending approvals needed to reverse its economic slump, Bloomberg News reported. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government late Friday surprised observers by announcing several state bank mergers, a move it said would create larger, healthier lenders. While that may be true in the long term, analysts predict that the efforts may be hurt by a near-term shift in management attention to aligning resources such as personnel, technology and branch networks.

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Hedge funds and private-equity firms are signing up European distressed-debt experts at the fastest pace in at least five years as slowing growth drives up corporate defaults in the region, Bloomberg News reported. Investment firms hired 29 new analysts, traders and money managers specializing in distressed situations during the first half of the year on a net basis, according to a report by headhunters Paragon Search Partners. That compares to 20 over the same period in 2018 and a net loss of two the year before.

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Odebrecht’s construction unit OEC has signed an agreement with bondholders to restructure its debt at a 55% discount, cutting it from $3.2 billion to $1.4 billion, the conglomerate said in a statement on Friday. The bonds, which matured and were unpaid earlier this year, will have new 4-1/2-year maturities, Reuters reported. The agreement concludes the out-of-court restructuring of Odebrecht’s construction unit. Brazilian newspaper Valor Economico first reported on the signing of the agreement.

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Some developers may not be admitting as much but there are increasing signs that times are tough in real estate in China. All three of the country’s biggest residential property firms reported a drop in the number of full-time employees in their first-half results, the first simultaneous downsizing since 2015, Bloomberg calculations show, Bloomberg News reported. Real estate companies in the world’s most-populous nation are facing a triple whammy of increased home-buying curbs, a more stringent credit environment and a slowing economy.

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Latin American airline Avianca will look to increase the number of passengers it can fit into a plane without enlarging its fleet as part of its efforts to overcome ongoing financial problems, its chief executive said on Thursday, Reuters reported. A video was released on social media this week showing president of the board Roberto Kriete telling employees that the airline was “broke.” The airline said the video was obtained illegally and denied that it was in a bankruptcy or insolvency process.

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