North America

A licenced insolvency trustee in Charlottetown is calling on the federal government to put in measures to help Islanders who are dealing with job loss also deal with their debt repayment and avoid bankruptcy, The Guardian reported. "People are stressed and scared, said Walter MacKinnon, who is also vice-president with MNP in Charlottetown. He said one type of call he has been receiving recently is from people who have made an insolvency proposal that has been accepted.

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Billionaire John Fredriksen’s Seadrill Ltd. re-hired long time adviser Houlihan Lokey Inc. to engage in fresh talks with lenders, people familiar with the situation said, Bloomberg News reported. The drilling operator, which was already struggling before the coronavirus outbreak, plans to negotiate with creditors after its business was hurt further by the historic slump in oil prices over recent weeks, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private.

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Even in an industry devastated by the coronavirus crisis, Latin American airlines stand out. Five of the biggest carriers in the region -- Latam Airlines Group SA, Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes SA, Azul SA, Avianca and Volaris -- have seen about $12 billion in their market value wiped out since the end of January through Wednesday’s close, Bloomberg News reported. On average, their stock tumbled 78% in local currency terms, more than all 23 members in the Bloomberg World Airlines Index. The global gauge is down 46% in the period.

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Never in modern trading history have Canadian stocks fallen so much in a single day of trading as they did this week. Growing alarm over the coronavirus and plummeting oil prices have been catalysts for the slump, Bloomberg News reported. But one historian sees two underlying factors at play: a fractured geopolitical environment that has coincided with market volatility the world over, and Canada’s thin corporate base. While the S&P/TSX Composite Index clawed back some of its lost ground on Friday, it is still down 24% from its record high on Feb. 20.

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Straining under a massive debt load and at risk of a ratings downgrade, Mexican state oil company Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) was hit with a record jump in its pension liabilities last year as more workers retired on generous benefits, the International New York Times reported on a Reuters story. Pemex is fighting to avoid having its bonds cut to "junk" or speculative grade, which would put pressure on Mexico's sovereign rating and deal a heavy blow to populist President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who has vowed to revive it.

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A court ordered businessman Miguel Aleman Magnani to pay 624 million pesos (about $32 million) to broadcaster Grupo Televisa SAB in a dispute over a radio-station deal, ratcheting up the financial pressure on a tycoon who also controls debt-laden Interjet airline, Bloomberg News reported. Televisa had agreed in July to sell its 50% stake in radio operator Sistema Radiopolis to Corporativo Coral, a company controlled by Aleman Magnani, who also is named in the court ruling.

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Billionaire John Fredriksen’s heavily indebted Seadrill Ltd. said it’s continuing talks with its banks as it reported a new loss amid a sluggish recovery in offshore drilling, Bloomberg News reported. The rig operator is under pressure less than two years after completing a massive restructuring that left it with almost $6 billion in bank debt. The company had counted on a strong market recovery that has yet to fully materialize as repayments come closer. Seadrill said the pace of the recovery has even slowed so far in 2020, as it reported a net loss of $199 million.

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Bank of Montreal shares fell after the lender reported earnings that showed credit weakness in its key U.S. operations, Bloomberg News reported. Earnings at the company’s U.S. banking division, which includes Chicago-based BMO Harris Bank, fell 21% to C$351 million ($264 million) in the fiscal first quarter, marking a setback for Chief Executive Officer Darryl White, who’s put an emphasis on the U.S. for growth. The bank set aside C$149 million for soured loans for the U.S., more than double the amount in the fourth quarter and up from C$6 million a year ago.

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Green Growth Brands Inc., once a suitor of Aphria Inc., is selling its CBD business and restructuring debt amid what the company is calling “serious financial difficulty,” Bloomberg News reported. In a further sign of the problems plaguing the cannabis industry, Green Growth said it will sell its CBD business to BRN Group Inc., a cannabis brand-management company, so it can focus on its marijuana operations. No terms were given. Shares tumbled as much as 42%, the most ever, to 25 cents in Toronto on Tuesday.

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Investment firm CRF I Ltd. sued Cuba in a London court in an attempt to force the island’s communist government to repay commercial debt that it defaulted on more than three decades ago, Bloomberg News reported. CRF, which has held Cuban debt for more than a decade, said the claim was filed in U.K. High Court against the government and state-owned Banco Nacional de Cuba. It stems from credits two European banks extended to the Cuban bank in 1982 and 1984, according to a copy of the claim seen by Bloomberg.

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