North America

Canada is facing industry calls to extend financial aid to smaller airlines, after offering a C$5.9 billion ($4.71 billion)life-line to Air Canada, as new COVID-19 variants loom ahead of the vital summer travel season, Reuters reported. The timing of Monday's deal, which saw the Canadian government take a 6% equity stake in Air Canada, was partly designed to secure "access to air travel when it returns," as the country's vaccine rollout ramps up this summer, a source familiar with the discussions said.
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The Biden administration on Thursday announced tough new sanctions on Russia and formally blamed the country’s premier intelligence agency for the sophisticated hacking operation that breached American government agencies and the nation’s largest companies, the New York Times reported. In the broadest effort yet by President Biden to give more teeth to financial sanctions — which in recent years have failed to deter Russian activity — the actions are aimed at choking off lending to the Russian government. In an executive order, Mr.
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Avianca Holdings SA plans to raise $1.8 billion to repay debt and provide new financing as the Colombian airline eyes an exit from the bankruptcy reorganization it was forced into last year during the pandemic-driven travel collapse, Bloomberg News reported. The air carrier retained Seabury Securities LLC to help raise the exit financing, likely a combination of debt and equity, the company said in a regulatory filing Wednesday. Avianca said it will repay $1.4 billion in bankruptcy loans and have around $1 billion in liquidity when it emerges from the reorganization at some point this year.
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Air Canada, struggling with a collapse in traffic due to the COVID-19 pandemic, reached a deal on Monday on a long-awaited aid package with the federal government that would allow it to access up to C$5.9 billion ($4.69 billion) in funds, Reuters reported. The agreement - the largest individual coronavirus-related loan that Ottawa has arranged with a company - was announced after the airline industry criticized Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government for dawdling. The United States and France acted much more quickly to help major carriers.
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Tenured professors at Laurentian University expect to know today whether they will be laid off as part of an extraordinary restructuring aimed at cutting costs at the insolvent and debt-burdened school, the Globe and Mail reported. For many professors, the secretive process, in which negotiations have been held behind closed doors, has been a cruel and uncertain time. Laurentian said a year ago that the pandemic threatened to tip its finances toward a crisis, but in the postwar era no Canadian public university has come through something of this nature.
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More than half of Canadians are on the brink of insolvency, according to a new survey, Yahoo.com reported. The report by MNP Consumer Debt Index found that 53 percent of Canadians are $200 or less away from not being able to make ends meet each month. This includes three out of 10 people who say they have no money left at the end of each month to cover their payments. The survey also states that 25 percent of Canadians have taken on more debt due to the pandemic.
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Powered by the U.S. and China, the global economy is set to make a stunning comeback this year from its deepest contraction since the Great Depression, economists say. For many developing countries, though, 2021 is shaping up to look a lot like 2020, with the pandemic still raging and poverty deepening, the Wall Street Journal reported. “Here in Washington, D.C., people are literally talking about the Roaring 20s and, you know, letting the doors fly off the U.S. economy,” said Geoffrey Okamoto, the International Monetary Fund’s first deputy managing director.
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Royal Bank of Canada Chief Executive Officer David McKay cautioned the Canadian government against overspending in this year’s budget, saying that previous stimulus programs already have the economy primed for a strong recovery, Bloomberg News reported. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said he has voters’ support to release an ambitious, debt-financed recovery plan. Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland is scheduled to unveil the budget, the government’s first full spending plan in two years, on April 19.

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Canada’s Enerplus Corp. said it would buy some assets in North Dakota’s Williston Basin from Hess Corp for $312 million, as improved oil price expectations have buoyed mergers and acquisitions in North America, Reuters reported. Canada’s oil and gas sector had a record start to 2021 in terms of mergers and acquisitions as the energy sector benefits from a rebound in oil prices from the pandemic-led crash last year, and as smaller companies bet on economies of scale.
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Struggling tour operator Air Transat is in talks with the federal government on aid but may not reach a deal by an April debt deadline, a source close to the situation said, putting pressure on Quebec to ride to the rescue of another troubled aerospace brand in the province, Reuters reported. Air Canada dropped its merger plans with Transat on Friday, saying European regulators had signaled it was unlikely to pass antitrust concerns. Canada’s largest carrier first bid for Transat in 2019 and discounted its offer last year as the pandemic decimated the travel and tourism sector.
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