Sweden

Scandinavian carrier SAS AB has secured enough backing from bondholders for a debt-to-equity plan that it says is needed to stave off bankruptcy, Bloomberg News reported. At a crunch meeting in Stockholm on Wednesday, an overwhelming majority of creditors voted in favor of the proposals to convert their holdings into equity and new notes, according to Lars Lonnquist, a portfolio manager at Spiltan Fonder AB and acting chairman of a committee of SAS noteholders.

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Scandinavian budget carrier Norwegian’s Swedish division has been denied a credit guarantee by the Swedish national debt office, FlightGlobal reported. The office states that it has “decided to reject” the application because guarantees can only be granted to airlines considered financially viable on 31 December 2019. It says there was a “very high risk” at the time – even before the air transport downturn – that Norwegian would not be able to meet its financial obligations, and that it would not be able to manage further debt.

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EU competition regulators on Monday cleared a 1-billion-euro ($1.2 billion)(915.40 million pounds) plan by Denmark and Sweden to recapitalise virus-hit SAS, saying the measure would prevent the Scandinavian airline’s insolvency, Reuters reported. The plan is part of a larger recapitalisation package which will result in private investors holding a significant stake in SAS following the conversion of outstanding privately-held debt instruments into equity.

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Bankers in Sweden are positioning for a wave of debt deals from real estate issuers, as the industry tries to move out of increasingly costly borrowing arrangements, Bloomberg News reported. Catella AB, a Swedish boutique advisory firm specializing in the property sector, has been hiring to make sure it has enough bankers to handle the development. “The demand for different sources of debt financing will increase in the Swedish real-estate market going forward,” Carl Wingmark, head of property advisory at the firm, said in an interview.

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Telia Co. AB is in talks to sell its indirect stake in Turkcell Iletisim Hizmetleri AS, Turkey’s biggest mobile-phone carrier, to the country’s sovereign wealth fund for about $530 million, Bloomberg News reported. Negotiations are still ongoing and are in an advanced stage, but no agreement has yet been reached, Telia said in a statement. Telia is the largest shareholder in Turkcell via the holding company Turkcell Holding AS.

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Sweden’s highly contested response to Covid-19 left much of the economy open. Even so, the country is now headed for its worst recession since World War II, Bloomberg News reported. Scandinavia’s biggest economy will shrink 7% this year, Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson said on Tuesday. Shortly after she spoke, the debt office revealed an historic 30-fold spike in borrowing to cover emergency spending amid record job losses. A separate survey showed 40% of businesses in Sweden’s service sector now fear bankruptcy.

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Scandinavia’s biggest network airline, SAS AB, is eliminating as many as 5,000 jobs, marking the first permanent staff cuts by a major European carrier in the face of collapsing travel demand, Bloomberg News reported. The Stockholm-based company said Tuesday that the dismissals, amounting to 40% of the workforce, are necessary because employees have an average notice period of six months and it needs to prepare for what may be years of sluggish demand.

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Norwegian Air on Monday reported that four Swedish and Danish subsidiaries had filed for bankruptcy and that it had ended staffing contracts in Europe and the United States, putting some 4,700 jobs at risk, Reuters reported. The airline is seeking to convert debt to equity, money from shareholders and Norwegian state guarantees in a bid to survive the coronavirus crisis.

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Sweden is witnessing a jump in bankruptcies this month with the rate among hotels and restaurants set to triple to 3.6 from 1.2 per day a year ago, and 3.1 retailers per day going under versus 1.8 per day a year earlier, credit information firm UC said on Thursday, Reuters reported. The rate of bankruptcies in the hotel and restaurant segmentwill probably accelerate further, UC said. UC on April 1 said bankruptcies in the restaurant and hotel sector shot up 123% in March, with the transport sector also seeing a big jump, up 105%.

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Swedish fashion retailer MQ will file for bankruptcy on Thursday, the company said, citing plunging sales because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Reuters reported. MQ had already been struggling in the face of a rapid transformation of the retail sector and last month filed for bankruptcy for the smaller of its two brands, Joy, and announced measures to minimise the impact on the group from the coronavirus crisis.

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