North America

A $4 billion accounting shortfall would typically raise alarm bells for an auditor. Somehow, a PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP affiliate didn’t catch it at Americanas SA, Bloomberg News reported. Investor and consumer groups are calling for closer scrutiny of the accounting firm after the unveiling of balance-sheet irregularities that led 93-year-old Brazilian retailer Americanas to seek protection from creditors last month. The gap came in part from supplier financing that wasn’t reflected the right way in the company’s financial statements, which have been audited by PwC since 2019.
Read more
Canada's Hut 8 Mining Corp. will merge with rival US Bitcoin Corp. to create a crypto mining giant in North America, consolidating after a steep fall in valuations for the crypto sector that saw high-profile collapses in recent months, Reuters reported. The companies said the combined entity will have a market capitalization of around $990 million, and be equally owned by shareholders of both the companies. The merged entity, to be called Hut 8 Corp, will be listed on both the Toronto Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq after the all-stock deal.
Read more
Potential buyers are inquiring about purchasing the struggling crypto lender Hodlnaut and its claims against bankrupt digital-asset exchange FTX, Bloomberg News reported. “Various parties who are interested in acquiring” Singapore-based Hodlnaut’s crypto platform and FTX claims have contacted the interim judicial managers overseeing the company after it sought protection from creditors, according to an affidavit seen by Bloomberg News. The judicial managers are in the process of signing non-disclosure agreements with the potential investors, the document shows.
Read more
The bankrupt FTX group of cryptocurrency companies extended the deadlines to bid for its Japan and Europe businesses as administrators strive to raise funds to help pay back creditors, Bloomberg News reported. The preliminary bid deadline is now March 8 and the auction date becomes April 26, according to a court filing on Wednesday. Administrators in December put several FTX units on the auction block, including LedgerX, the Japanese and Singaporean crypto exchanges, and the European digital assets and derivatives business.
Read more
Cryptocurrency exchange Kraken has shut its Abu Dhabi office less than a year after securing a license in the region, a spokesperson said on Thursday, as the company seeks to sharpen its focus after FTX's bankruptcy shook the digital assets sector, Reuters reported. The U.S.-based company had said last year it would reduce its workforce by 30%, or about 1,100 employees, as rising rates and worries of an economic downturn soured the sentiment on crypto.
Read more
Canada’s economy geared down at the end of 2022, growing at about half the pace of the third quarter and setting the stage for a period of little to no growth, Bloomberg News reported. Preliminary data suggest gross domestic product was flat in December as increases in retail, utilities and the public sector were offset by decreases in the wholesale, finance and oil and gas industries, Statistics Canada reported Tuesday in Ottawa. That followed a 0.1% gain in November, which matched economist expectations in a Bloomberg survey, and a 0.1% increase in October.
Read more
Brazilian shopping chain Americanas SA yesterday filed for chapter 15 bankruptcy, a move that protects its U.S. assets while insolvency proceedings play out in its home country, Bloomberg News reported. The retailer nosedived in January after becoming mired in an accounting scandal. The firm, backed by billionaire Jorge Paulo Lemann, filed for bankruptcy at a court in Rio de Janeiro on Jan. 19. In disclosures to investors, the firm implied it misreported numbers connected to some of its financing and wrongly deducted interest paid to lenders from its liabilities.
Read more
Mexican same-store retail sales rose by 10.6% across 2022 compared to the previous year, as the highest inflation in over two decades sent prices soaring, Mexican retailers' association ANTAD said Wednesday, with sales expected to moderate in 2023, Reuters reported. In 2022, sales at the retail group's member stores totaled 1.43 trillion Mexican pesos ($76.08 billion). The retail group said in a statement that surging consumer prices were partly responsible for the sales growth last year, as top-line inflation reached 7.82% in December.
Read more
North America’s produce industry will be rocked by the bankruptcy of Lakeside Produce Inc., in Leamington, Ontario, FreshFruitPortal.com reported. The firm faces total claims of $187,889,241. Lakeside lists assets at $3,580,233. The bankruptcy was filed on Jan. 17. DRC – the Dispute Resolution Corporation - in Ottawa, on Jan. 24 shared with FreshFruitPortal.com its public records on this stunning development. There are exactly 300 creditors listed in the official papers.
Read more
The Bank of Canada raised interest rates for an eighth consecutive and potentially final time, saying it expects to move to the sidelines and weigh the impact of its rapid tightening, Bloomberg News reported. Policymakers led by Governor Tiff Macklem increased the benchmark overnight lending rate by 25 basis points to 4.5% on Wednesday, the highest level in 15 years. Bonds rallied and the loonie dropped. While the quarter percentage point hike matched expectations of markets and economists, most analysts didn’t see the central bank explicitly declaring a potential end point.
Read more