Spain

A Spanish court has summoned Mikhail Fridman, who controls retailer DIA, to appear before it next month in an investigation into the bankruptcy of digital entertainment firm Zed Worldwide, a judicial source said on Wednesday, Reuters reported. Fridman had been called to the Madrid-based Audiencia Nacional major crimes court on Sept. 12 after a Spanish anti-graft prosecutor alleged that the Russian tycoon had played a role in Zed’s bankruptcy, the judicial source told Reuters. A spokesman for Fridman said he had not received any legal notification regarding the summons.

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Spain’s arduous economic recovery has reached a milestone after the number of people employed finally surpassed pre-crisis levels, the Financial Times reported. But while the figure of 19.52m with jobs, announced by the labour ministry on Tuesday, represents a new peak and the highest since 2007, other statistics present a bleaker picture of the negative effects of a decade of turmoil and its effects on millions of workers. Despite the rising job numbers, Spain still has an unemployment rate of 13.6 per cent, according to EU statistics, the worst in the 28-country bloc after Greece.

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Spanish manufacturers reported tumbling orders and falling output as the eurozone economy continues to be hit by global trade angst and weakening growth, the Financial Times reported. The closely watched IHS Markit purchasing managers’ index fell to 47.9 in June, down from 50.1 in May. The figure was lower than the 49.5 forecast in a Reuters poll. A reading below 50 indicates a majority of companies reported falling output.

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Spanish retailer DIA said on Monday its main shareholder will seek a deal on how to restructure the discount supermarket chain’s towering debt after missing a Saturday deadline, Reuters reported. The company’s biggest shareholder, investment fund LetterOne, is negotiating with a group of 17 lenders, including seven investment funds, the details of a 380-million-euro ($426.63 million) refinancing agreement, according to a source with knowledge of the deal.

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A stand-off between Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman and Ana Botin has ended with the Banco Santander SA chairman blinking first. Fridman’s hostile bid for struggling Spanish grocer Distribuidora Internacional de Alimentacion SA won shareholder approval earlier this month. But Santander, DIA’s second-biggest lender, objected to a related deal to recapitalize the company, a Bloomberg View reported. That refusenik stance threatened to trigger a default and wipe out Fridman’s equity within weeks of the takeover succeeding.

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Struggling Spanish retailer DIA reached an eleventh-hour agreement to secure financing on Monday, new owner LetterOne said in a statement, staving off the imminent risk of having to start insolvency proceedings, Reuters reported. DIA’s failure to compete with domestic and foreign rivals that have invested more heavily in their stores has hit the company’s market share and left it with negative equity and towering debt.

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Bonds held by the European Central Bank could become unlikely collateral damage in a battle between Spain’s largest bank and a Russian billionaire over an almost-insolvent retailer, Bloomberg News reported. The ECB is among bondholders that may be forced to take losses as a condition for Banco Santander SA to let Mikhail Fridman’s LetterOne investment fund recapitalize Distribudora Internacional de Alimentacion SA. The Bank of Spain bought DIA’s notes in 2016 as part of the ECB’s corporate bond purchase program.

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Sales slid and losses continued at Spain’s DIA in the first three months of the year, the supermarket chain said on Tuesday, as investors awaited the next step in a takeover bid by Russian tycoon Mikhail Fridman’s investment fund, Reuters reported. Squeezed by tough competition from domestic and foreign rivals who have invested heavily in their stores, DIA has failed to stem a haemorrhage of market share it built up by discounting during a prolonged recession.

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Banco Santander reported a 10.4 per cent drop in first-quarter net earnings, as restructuring costs in UK and Poland and high inflation in Argentina trimmed the bank’s performance, the Financial Times reported. The eurozone’s largest bank by market capitalisation said total net profit dropped to €1.84bn for the three months to March, down from €2.05bn in 2018. Analysts polled by Bloomberg had expected net earnings of €1.83bn for the quarter. Without foreign currency headwinds, the bank said profit for the quarter would have dropped 7.7 per cent.

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Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman’s holding company, LetterOne, has stepped up its criticism of a turnround plan at Spanish grocer Dia Group as it filed regulatory documents for its own bid to buy out and fix the troubled chain, the Financial Times reported. “A lot of Dia’s problems have been in the making for some time,” said Stephan DuCharme, managing partner of LetterOne division L1 Retail.

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