United Kingdom

Recruiter Hays has warned it expects profits to slip in the first half of this year, as economic uncertainty across several key markets disrupts its business, the Financial Times reported. Hays highlighted strikes in France, the slowdown in the German economy, political uncertainty in the UK and the still-raging Australian bushfires as factors behind a “marked” slowdown in fee growth in December, in a trading update on Thursday. Together, these countries account for 45 per cent of the recruiter’s fees.

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Condor, the airline that used to belong to Thomas Cook, has attracted interest from buyout groups Apollo and Greybull as well as Polish carrier LOT, which are expected to submit final bids next week, a person close to the matter said, Reuters reported. Each of the bidders could tie up with some of Germany’s leading tour operators in a potential deal to buy Condor, the person said on Thursday. Condor and Apollo declined to comment, while Greybull and LOT were not immediately available for comment.

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The agency set up five years ago to help councils increase their sources of funding by raising cheaper debt is set for its first issuance, paving the way for what cash-strapped local authorities hope will become a thriving municipal bond market in the UK, the Financial Times reported. The move by the UK Municipal Bonds Agency comes three months after the government sharply raised the interest rate on its own local authority loans — via the Public Works Loan Board (PWLB) — inspiring councils to look elsewhere for new funding streams.

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Regional airline Flybe was rescued on Tuesday after the British government promised to review taxation of the industry and shareholders pledged more money to prevent its collapse, Reuters reported. The agreement comes a day after the emergence of reports suggesting it needed to raise new funds to survive through its quieter winter months. After crunch talks with shareholders, Britain’s finance ministry said that it would review both air passenger duty (APD) and Britain’s regional connectivity as part of the plan.

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Bankruptcy proceedings designed to save struggling companies have resulted in failure in more than half the cases where they have been used, according to research by estate agency Colliers International, the Financial Times reported. Between 2016 and 2019, 13 of 23 company voluntary arrangements, which are used by UK businesses to reduce their debts, saw the group going into administration, while other companies that did not agree a CVA ended up seeking investors to buy the business. Failed CVAs include those agreed by Toys R US and Jamie’s Italian.

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The new governor of the Bank of England and the chancellor need to take early action to ensure the central bank has weapons it can deploy when the next recession hits, warn economists, the Financial Times reported. A survey conducted by the Financial Times last month illustrates economists’ waning faith in the power of monetary policymakers to fight a downturn. A majority of the more than 85 respondents thought the UK economy would fare no better this year than it did in 2019, when growth slowed to its lowest level in a decade.

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Mundipharma International Ltd., a global pharmaceutical company owned by the billionaire Sackler family, is working with Deutsche Bank AG as it weighs a sale of the business amid interest from potential buyers, people familiar with the matter said, Bloomberg News reported. A sale of the Cambridge, U.K.-based business could fetch from $3 billion to $5 billion, the people said, asking not to be identified because the matter is private. The company has attracted initial interest from other pharmaceutical companies as well private equity firms, the people said.

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U.K. regional airline Flybe Group Plc has only days to secure a rescue package that could include help from the government, according to a person with knowledge of the talks, Bloomberg News reported. Flybe owner Connect Airways, comprising Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd., Stobart Group and Cyrus Capital, is looking for state assistance to avoid putting the airline into liquidation, said the person, who asked not to be identified discussing a private matter. That could involve measures such as suspending U.K. air passenger duty owed by the carrier, the person said. U.K.

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U.K. regional airline Flybe Group Plc is in crunch talks with the British government for emergency financing, less than a year after a group fronted by Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. stepped in to rescue the unprofitable carrier, Sky News reported. EY is on standby to handle any potential liquidation, according to the report, which cited unidentified aviation industry sources, Bloomberg News reported. More than 2,000 jobs are at risk, Sky said. Flybe issued a short statement, saying it remains in business.

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The audit watchdog has delayed a decision on whether to bring enforcement action against KPMG over its work on collapsed outsourcing giant Carillion, citing an exceptionally large and complicated investigation, the Financial Times reported. The Financial Reporting Council said it would miss a self-imposed deadline to complete its probe into audit work carried out by KPMG, which was initially due this month. It will instead make a decision on whether to bring disciplinary proceedings against KPMG, which could include a hefty fine, this summer.

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