Oceania

Carnival Corp.’s flagship cruising brand extended its pause on U.S. departures through the end of April and shelved operations in Australia through mid-May amid lingering pandemic concerns, Bloomberg News reported. Carnival Cruise Line also canceled European trips on Carnival Legend that had been poised to start in May, and delayed trips on Mardi Gras from Port Canaveral, Fla., until the end of that month, according to a statement on Friday. The announcement is the latest in a long line of delays since the entire industry essentially went on hold in mid-March.

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Beijing’s bar against Australian coal imports is upending global flows of the energy commodity, leaving dozens of loaded ships stranded off the Chinese coast and reshaping the direction of the seaborne trade, the Wall Street Journal reported. The flotilla of coal carriers sitting outside Chinese ports has grown to some 65 vessels, according to ship brokers in Singapore and London. Ship operators and coal suppliers unable to find new buyers for their cargo are waiting out a trade dispute that has lasted several months.

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The Reserve Bank of New Zealand said on Sunday that it was responding with urgency to a breach of one of its data systems, Reuters reported. A third-party file-sharing service used by the central bank to share and store some sensitive information was illegally accessed, the bank said in a statement. RBNZ Governor Adrian Orr said that the breach had been contained but added it would take time to understand the full implications of this breach. n August, the operator of New Zealand’s stock exchange was hit by cyberattacks.

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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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Australian businesses are bracing for a wave of insolvency when JobKeeper payments end in three months after changes to bankruptcy laws were initiated at the start of the year and border closures continue to impact employers, SkyNews.com reported. The federal government temporarily changed bankruptcy legislation at the peak of the coronanvirus outbreak to help employers make it through the pandemic. Creditors will be allowed to apply for a bankruptcy notice against a business when outstanding debts reach $10,000 since the safe rules have now ended.

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As of January 1, eligible Australian businesses experiencing financial distress can access a new, simplified debt restructuring process that allows them to restructure their existing debts while remaining in control of their business, the government said in a statement, the Australian Times reported. The reforms are aimed at repositioning the country’s insolvency system to help more incorporated small businesses – with liabilities of less than $1-million – restructure and survive the economic impact of the Covid-19 recession.

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Oil and gas explorer Far Ltd said on Thursday it received a A$209.6 million ($159.15 mln) all-cash takeover proposal from private investment firm Remus Horizons PCC Ltd, Reuters reported. The offer values Far at 2.1 Australian cents per share, representing a premium of 90.9% to the company’s shares last closing price of 1.1 Australian cents. Cash-strapped Far has struggled due to the coronavirus-induced downturn in the oil and gas industry, with the Africa-focused explorer defaulting in June on its contributions to the Sangomar oil project off Senegal’s shore.

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Virgin Australia said on Wednesday it had restructured its order for Boeing Co 737 MAX planes, reducing the number on order to 25 from 48 and delaying the first deliveries by two years to mid-2023, Reuters reported. Australia’s second-biggest airline, now owned by U.S. private equity group Bain Capital, said in a statement it would take 25 of the largest variant, the 737 MAX 10, but not the 23 smaller 737 MAX 8s it had ordered previously. Bain’s purchase of Virgin closed last month, allowing the airline to exit from voluntary administration, Australia’s closest equivalent to U.S.

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Deferred Loans Head 'Back To Normal'

More than two-thirds of mortgage and personal loans that had principal and interest repayments deferred due to the impact of Covid-19 were now "back to normal", says the New Zealand Bankers' Association, the New Zealand Herald reported. At the same time, nearly 40 per cent of those loans that had reduced repayments were now back on track. In March, in consultation with the government, the Reserve Bank and credit reporting agencies, all New Zealand retail banks offered loan deferrals for up to six months and reduced loan repayments to customers financially impacted by the Covid-19 global pan

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Grocon Building Empire Collapses

The massive Grocon building empire has collapsed. The company, which is one of the biggest property developers in Australia, went into administration on Friday, saying the construction side of the business was insolvent, Yahoo! News reported. Its chief executive, Daniel Grollo, says he's furious and blamed government agency Infrastructure NSW for its handling of the Central Barangaroo project. "It is unfortunate that INSW is forcing our hand to place the construction business into administration," he said.

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