North America

Toronto-Dominion Bank will defend itself in a trial starting in a Canadian court on Monday in which liquidators of the collapsed Antigua bank of former Texas financier Robert Allen Stanford are seeking $5.5 billion in damages, Reuters reported. The joint liquidators of Stanford International Bank (SIB) allege “negligence and knowing assistance” by TD, Canada’s second-biggest lender, in allowing SIB to maintain correspondent accounts, according to a statement filed with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in 2019.
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Hundreds of restaurants in Mexico City were set to welcome back diners on Monday, defying the capital’s Covid-19 restrictions in an online campaign titled “We Open or We Die,” Bloomberg News reported. Popular chains like Sonora Grill and Fisher’s said they’ll do a better job of keeping customers safe than the informal street stands and markets that have been allowed to operate under the lockdown. In a separate campaign, 500 restaurateurs including Alsea SAB, operator of chains like Chili’s and P.F.

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Costa Rica built Latin America’s model society, enacting universal health care and spending its way to one of the Western Hemisphere’s highest literacy rates. Now, it’s reeling from the financially crushing side effects of the coronavirus, as cratering revenue and crisis spending force a reckoning over a massive pile of government debt, the Washington Post reported. The pandemic is hurtling heavily leveraged nations into an economic danger zone, threatening to bankrupt the worst-affected.

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Severe coronavirus restrictions around the world to contain surging infection rates weighed on fuel sales, weakening the prospect of energy demand recovery in the first half of 2021, Reuters reported. Most of Europe is now under the strictest restrictions, according to the Oxford stringency index, which assesses indicators such as travel bans and the closure of schools and workplaces. The United Kingdom’s new national lockdown is expected to last until mid-February at least.

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The Panamanian attorney general’s office will ask a judge to order Odebrecht to pay fines due in 2019 and 2020 after the corruption-ensnared Brazilian conglomerate failed to pay, prosecutor Anilu Batista said on Friday, Reuters reported. Panamanian authorities fined Odebrecht in 2017 for paying bribes in exchange for construction contracts in the Central American country. The company owes more than $35.5 million, a judicial source at the attorney general’s office said. Odebrecht did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Cinepolis de Mexico SA, Mexico’s biggest chain of cinemas, is seeking to restructure more than $1 billion in loans, Bloomberg News reported. The global movie theater giant has enlisted Lazard Ltd. for talks with lenders including Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA, HSBC Holdings Plc, Banco Santander SA and the Mexican government development bank Bancomext, the people said. Talks started early last month and the banks picked FTI Consulting Inc. as their adviser.

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As the code red lockdown continues past the holiday season, the pulse of Winnipeg small business is growing weak despite injections of government survival cash. Jonathan Alward, director of provincial affairs for the Manitoba branch of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) told the Winnipeg Sun on Tuesday that many Winnipeg small businesses are considering bankruptcy.

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DesRosiers Automotive Consultants Inc. says that 1.54 million cars and trucks were sold in Canada in 2020, falling 19.7 per cent from 2019 to the lowest level since 2009, the Canadian Press reported. The consultancy says auto sales fell 2.6 per cent in December 2020 from the same month in 2019, leaving dealers in the midst of the steepest annual decline since 1982. But it also says that it could have been worse, given sales plummeted 75 per cent for the month of April at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Even before Covid-19, the World Bank had lowered its projections for global growth in the 10 years that began in 2020. The pandemic is exacerbating that trend, raising the prospect of a “lost decade” ahead, the World Bank said Tuesday, as it also cut its forecasts for the coming year, the Wall Street Journal reported. The bank’s semiannual Global Economic Prospects report attributes the long-term downgrade to lower trade and investment caused by uncertainty over the pandemic, along with disruptions in education that will hamper gains in labor productivity.
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While many have celebrated the start of the New Year filled with hope, one expert believes that 2021 will be difficult for directors, officers, and their advisers due to a projected increase in insolvency claims against them, Insurance Business Magazine reported. “The view from specialists across our network is that while legislative measures… have offered some protection to directors of companies facing financial difficulties, insolvency claims will be a strong driver of D&O risk in 2021,” said Simon Konsta, partner at Clyde & Co. London.

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