Oceania

New Zealand’s central bank warned that the coronavirus pandemic presents a significant challenge to the country’s financial institutions, which could be stressed by failing businesses and loan defaults, Bloomberg News reported. While the financial system entered the crisis in good shape, “it’s capacity to absorb shocks is not unlimited,” the Reserve Bank said in its semi-annual Financial Stability Report published Wednesday in Wellington.

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Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd’s administrators have halted payments to bondholders and appointed Morgan Stanley to help sell the airline within four months, said a participant in a meeting of creditors owed nearly A$7 billion ($4.58 billion), Reuters reported. Administrators from Deloitte Australia were appointed this month to restructure and sell Virgin, making it the Asia-Pacific airline industry’s biggest victim of the coronavirus crisis.

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International law firm Hogan Lovells is holding discussions with some bondholders of distressed airline carrier Virgin Australia, ahead of a first creditors meeting set for Thursday, Bloomberg News reported. Virgin Australia became Asia’s first airline to fall amid the coronavirus pandemic when it was placed under voluntary administration last week. With total debt of about A$6.84 billion ($4.4 billion) and more than 10,000 creditors, it’s one of Australia’s most high-profile debt restructurings.

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Restructuring experts expect to be paid as much as A$30 million ($19 million) to find a buyer for Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd., the highest-profile airline to fall to the coronavirus, Bloomberg News reported. The debt-laden carrier said Tuesday it handed control to administrators at Deloitte after being overwhelmed by a near-halt in passenger revenue. The estimated remuneration for the voluntary administration is A$20 million to A$30 million, with further costs in the event of a liquidation, according to a circular to Virgin Australia’s creditors posted on Deloitte’s website.

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Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd said on Tuesday it has entered voluntary administration to recapitalize the business and emerge in a stronger financial position after being battered by the coronavirus crisis and a high debt load, Reuters reported. Deloitte has been appointed as the administrator, Virgin said in a statement, after the airline was unable to secure a A$1.4 billion ($887.60 million) loan from the federal government.

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Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd. has been offered a A$200 million ($127 million) lifeline from the Queensland government less than 24 hours after Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister all but ruled out nationalizing the embattled carrier, Bloomberg News reported. The funding is conditional on the Federal government coordinating a response involving all states and territories.

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Australia’s jobless rate will almost double this quarter, the nation’s Treasury estimated, as the shutdown of large swathes of the services industry upends the labor market, Bloomberg News reported. Unemployment will soar to 10% in the three months through June, from 5.1% in February, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said Tuesday, citing department forecasts. Without the government’s subsidy to keep workers attached to their employers, it would reach about 15%, he said.

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Cash-strapped Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd entered a trading halt on Tuesday, citing ongoing discussions involving financial assistance and restructuring alternatives to help it weather the coronavirus crisis, Reuters reported. The airline, which had requested A$1.4 billion ($895 million) of loans from the Australian government, said the trading halt on its shares and unsecured notes would remain in place either until an announcement by the company or two trading days, whichever was earlier.

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Qantas Airways has raised A$1.05bn ($633m) to bolster its balance sheet, one of the first successful private debt raisings by an airline since countries around the globe began shutting their borders against coronavirus, forcing the industry to ground thousands of aircraft, the Financial Times reported. The 10-year loan advanced by a consortium of domestic and international banks is secured against part of the Australian carrier’s fleet at an interest rate of 2.75 per cent.

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Australia has one of the harshest regimes for insolvent trading in the world. But its laser focus on the interests of creditors, and harsh penalties, has served to distract directors in times of distress – and arguably stood in the way of better outcomes for everyone (creditors included), The Australian Financial Review reported. Refocusing directors’ attention to the interests of the company as a whole could change that.

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