Spain

A Spanish magistrate has launched a criminal investigation into suspected account-fiddling at retailer Dia under its previous management, before Russian oligarch Mikhail Fridman took over the near-insolvent company last year, Reuters reported. Magistrate Alejandro Abascal said in court documents seen by Reuters that he was looking into whether the company’s management, including then-CEO Ricardo Curras, manipulated Dia’s pre-tax earnings data in 2017 to make it falsely appear the company had reached financial targets.

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Spanish engineering company Isolux said on Friday it had activated the formal process aimed at avoiding insolvency, as it battles to secure enough money to remain in business, the Stock Daily Dish reported. Under Spanish law, companies can enter into debt restructuring proceedings that give them up to four months to reach an agreement with creditors to avoid a full-blown insolvency process and a potential bankruptcy. Isolux has over 2 billion euros ($2.1 billion) in restructured debt, according to an update on its restructuring process published in December.

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Brazilian carriers Telefonica Brasil and TIM Participações will consider acquiring assets from struggling rival Oi SA if they are put up for sale, executives from both companies said on Tuesday, Reuters reported. In September, Reuters reported that Oi was in talks with the local subsidiaries of Spain’s Telefonica SA and Telecom Italia SpA to sell assets and avoid insolvency.

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Spain’s High Court will investigate allegations that Russian tycoon Mikhail Fridman acted to depress the share price of DIA when trying to take control of the supermarket chain, a court document seen by Reuters showed, Reuters reported. Fridman’s LetterOne fund denied the allegations on Tuesday, saying in a statement they were “untrue and defamatory”. LetterOne rescued DIA from the brink of insolvency this year after the retailer’s market value fell by 90% in 2018 as it lost out to rising competition.

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Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman is facing questioning in Spain over allegations he illegally laid “economic siege” to an acquisition target while camouflaging his true role, according to court documents seen by the Financial Times. An anti-corruption prosecutor suspects Mr Fridman broke the country’s criminal code in 2016 in an attempt to take control of Zed World Wide, a Spanish mobile content and services business that later declared insolvency, the Financial Times reported.

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Santander has taken a €1.5bn writedown on the value of its UK business, blaming new regulations and the expected economic fallout from Brexit, the Financial Times reported. The move highlights the challenges facing the UK’s fifth-largest bank, which is grappling with sluggish growth and rising competition while its Spanish owner looks to cut costs and increase investment in other parts of its empire. Santander, the eurozone’s largest retail bank, announced the news late on Tuesday after markets closed in Mexico, where the group has a secondary listing.

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A deal to buy insolvent German wind-power manufacturer Senvion’s service business would help Siemens Gamesa catch up to rival Vestas in this increasingly important part of the market, a Wood Mackenzie analyst says, Greentech Media reported. Senvion this week confirmed it's in exclusive talks with Siemens Gamesa to sell parts of its service business and other “selected onshore assets." Senvion entered voluntary insolvency proceedings in April as the global wind turbine industry continues to consolidate around a few major players outside of China, notably Vestas, Siemens Gamesa and GE.

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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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