Oceania

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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“Mate, I’m terrified.” “All we need is for two big jobs, two major corporates to go under and there will be a run of people putting themselves into administration. It's a domino effect." The coronavirus pandemic swept through corporate Australia this week at a ferocious pace, forcing a string of companies to pull their financial forecasts and triggering steep share price falls, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

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Corporate undertakers are divided over pleas for the government to impose a "moratorium" on insolvent trading laws to keep businesses afloat and protect directors, with some insolvency practitioners warning it will hurt creditors and worsen the economic downturn, the Financial Review reported. Thousands of businesses, particularly small and medium enterprises (SMEs), face collapse in coming months because of a severe downturn in economic activity from the coronavirus disruption.

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The coronavirus pandemic will bankrupt most airlines worldwide by the end of May unless governments and the industry take coordinated steps to avoid such a situation, an aviation consultant warned, Bloomberg News reported. Many airlines have probably been driven into technical bankruptcy or substantially breached debt covenants already, Sydney-based consultancy CAPA Centre for Aviation warned in a statement Monday. Carriers are depleting cash reserves quickly because their planes are grounded and those that aren’t are flying more than half empty, it said.

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The Australian dollar tumbled to its weakest level since the financial crisis as investors continued to weigh the impact of the coronavirus on economic growth in China, Australia’s biggest trading partner, the Financial Times reported. The currency, typically regarded as a proxy for Chinese economic growth, fell as much as 1 per cent to $0.6662 in New York trade on Friday morning, the lowest level against the greenback since March 2009.

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Natural disasters are unpredictable events with broadly predictable results: a destruction of property and wealth, but no lasting impact on economic growth, The Wall Street Journal reported. Australia’s wildfires, which have ravaged more than 26,000 square miles of land and killed at least 30 people, will be the latest big test of that view. At stake is the country’s 28-year run without a recession—the longest ongoing streak in the developed world.

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