Italy

Supplies to Sardinia and other Italian islands are at risk after ferry operator Moby SpA suspended some of its services, Bloomberg News reported. Italy’s officials called for an emergency meeting with administrators of Tirrenia, an insolvent company whose assets were bought by Moby in 2011, after they seized the accounts of one of the operator’s unit on Monday, according to a statement from the ministry of transport. Moby has failed to pay a deferred installment for the acquisition. The company responded to the seizure by halting ferry services, it said in an emailed statement.

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Alitalia’s administrator has asked Italy’s government to raise to nearly 7,000 the number of its employees under a temporary lay-off scheme, with most of its aircraft standing idle during the coronavirus outbreak, Reuters reported. The request for 2,900 more workers to join the scheme came on Thursday in a letter sent by the state-appointed administrator to unions and government ministries and seen by Reuters. Alitalia’s total workforce is around 11,600.

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Italy’s prime minister has demanded the EU use “the full firepower” of its €500bn rescue fund to confront the continent’s economic crisis, as he warned against relying on monetary policy to counter a “global shock that has no precedents,” the Financial Times reported. With coronavirus deaths in Italy overtaking those in China for the first time, Giuseppe Conte told the Financial Times it was time for the European Stability Mechanism to offer emergency credit lines to countries reeling from the pandemic.

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By now it should be clear that monetary policy cannot cure coronavirus. But central bankers can certainly aggravate the market symptoms, the Financial Times reported. That is the accusation being levelled at Christine Lagarde after a remark she made last week that triggered a sell-off in parts of Europe’s bond markets. It is not the European Central Bank’s job, the president said, to “close the spread” between the bonds of different member states. Clearly, some traders thought it was, judging from the subsequent slide in Italian debt.

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As Italy confronts the ravages of an unexpected threat in the coronavirus, fears are intensifying that the economic damage could trigger a far more familiar danger — a banking crisis, the International New York Times reported. Italy’s banks and their formidable piles of bad loans have long constituted a central worry in an economy that has not grown in more than a decade. The nation’s lenders are at once big enough, sufficiently integrated with the world, and adequately shaky to pose a constant menace to the global financial system.

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Italy is set to increase the taxpayer bill for keeping bankrupt airline Alitalia SpA aloft to more than 2.1 billion euros ($2.3 billion) over about three years, and the spending is unlikely to stop there, Bloomberg News reported. A new 600 million-euro loan included in a coronavirus stimulus package being discussed by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s cabinet, is part of a plan to re-nationalize the loss-making carrier, according to the latest draft of the document. That’s double what was initially planned, people familiar with the matter said on Saturday.

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In an effort to conquer the virus, Italy’s government this week imposed drastic quarantine measures that have emptied the piazzas of cities that are cornerstones of European civilisation, the Financial Times reported. Like all museums, Florence’s Uffizi Gallery is closed. No one is throwing coins into Rome’s Trevi fountain. From inside the Vatican, Pope Francis live-streamed his regular Wednesday mass instead of greeting pilgrims on St Peter’s Square.

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Telefonica SA and Telecom Italia SpA’s Brazilian units are working together to buy the mobile operations of Oi SA and end years of failed attempts to consolidate the country’s wireless industry, Bloomberg News reported. Telefonica Brasil SA and Tim Participacoes SA said they’ll will hold discussions on a potential joint acquisition of all or part of Oi’s mobile assets, which Bradesco BBI estimates may be worth at least 12 billion reais ($2.6 billion).

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In a related story, Bloomberg News reported that Italy is negotiating with banks to provide breaks from debt payments including mortgages as it seeks to soften the impact of a nationwide lockdown to contain the coronavirus. The government is considering unprecedented steps to inject money into companies and ease family debt burdens, Deputy Finance Minister Laura Castelli said in a radio interview. It’s also looking to aid those who experience temporary layoffs, she said, adding that a new decree on economic relief will be announced soon.

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The Rome government is considering a state guarantee scheme to support banks offering debt moratoriums to firms and households grappling with the economic fallout from Italy’s coronavirus outbreak, one of the world’s worst, Reuters reported. Deputy Economy Minister Antonio Misiani said in an interview with Radio24 on Monday that the government was discussing the measure with Italy’s central bank. Such a move would address requests by Italian banks, which fear a new surge in problem loans just as they are emerging from a long restructuring to tackle the legacy of previous downturns.

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