United Kingdom

A Chinese conglomerate’s rescue plan for Britain’s second-biggest steelmaker has been met by doubts from unions and industry insiders who question the buyer’s motives and business logic, the Financial Times reported. Jingye Group, a privately owned Chinese group whose interests span hotels, property, tourism and chemicals alongside steelmaking, agreed to buy British Steel from the UK’s Insolvency Service.

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New Look is still suffering from falling sales more than a year after reaching agreement on a restructuring of its store estate, adding to fears about the health of the UK high street as the election campaign gets under way, the Financial Times reported. In the half year to September 28 the fashion retailer said same-store sales were down 7.4 per cent in the UK and Ireland, with a strong summer more than cancelled out by a poor September.

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Trips and holidays by Thomas Cook Germany with a departure date of Jan. 1, 2020 or later, "cannot be commenced" even if they had already been partially or fully paid for, the tour operator announced on Tuesday, Xinhuanet reported. "We are so sorry that we have to deliver this message to our customers with departure in the new year," said Stefanie Berk, chairwoman of the management board of Thomas Cook Germany. Among others, the tour operators that are affected were Thomas Cook Signature, Thomas Cook Signature Finest Selection, Neckermann Reisen and Oeger Tours.

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PizzaExpress bondholders have warned the restaurant chain that its future is at risk, urging its Chinese owners to work with them on a financial restructuring, the Financial Times reported. A group of investors who own almost 70 per cent of the £465m of senior secured bonds told the board they were willing to provide extra money to secure the business, said two people with familiar with the situation.Their letter asked management to move quickly to restructure the group’s debt-laden balance sheet. Analysts from S&P on Monday said that a “distressed exchange or a debt restructurin

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British nursery retailer Mamas & Papas Retail was sold to private equity firm Bluegem Capital Partners, administrator Deloitte said on Friday, leading to the shutdown of six loss-making stores and 73 job losses, Reuters reported. The news comes three days after baby products retailer Mothercare said it would shut all its British stores. Mamas & Papas sells pushchairs, car seats, furniture, clothing and other nursery products.

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British budget airlines easyJet and Jet2.com have bought the take-off and landing slots of failed travel company Thomas Cook at London Gatwick and Manchester airports, respectively, Reuters reported. Thomas Cook’s UK business and airline went into immediate insolvency when the company collapsed in September, and a court appointed an official receiver to liquidate its assets.

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TVT Media, a London-headquartered provider of media localization and end-to-end content services, filed for insolvency on October 21, 2019, according to regulatory filings, Slator reported. TVT’s operations in the UK generated revenues of nearly GBP 10m (USD 12.6m) in 2017 (the most recent year for which numbers are available), but the company’s global size is likely a multiple of the figure given that it operates large subsidiaries in the US, the Netherlands, Poland, Australia, Singapore, and Japan.

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The indebted shopping centre landlord Intu said it was “likely” to have to raise fresh equity after a string of retailer insolvencies hit the group harder than expected, the Financial Times reported. Intu, whose largest shareholder is the property billionaire John Whittaker, said in a trading update that like-for-like rental income for 2019 would drop about 9 per cent from the previous year, and would continue falling in 2020.

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PizzaExpress‘s owner took a first step toward tackling the company’s debt pile, offering to buy back bonds that are due to mature in 2022, Yahoo Finance reported. Private equity firm Hony Capital will purchase as much as 80 million pounds ($103 million) of the company’s 200 million pounds of unsecured notes due August 2022, according to a statement sent to investors and confirmed by the company’s spokesman. PizzaExpress also said it hired advisers Houlihan Lokey Inc. and Kirkland & Ellis as it seeks to extend or refinance a 20 million-pound credit facility maturing in August.

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A court judgment could see company directors and shareholders pursued for millions of pounds for funds paid into tax avoidance schemes, Credit Strategy reported. The ruling, handed down by Chief Insolvency and Companies Court Judge Briggs, will see the directors and shareholders of Implement Consulting having to pay back over £3m to the company and its creditors, despite it being placed into liquidation in 2016. The case was brought by liquidators CVR Global, who were assisted by solicitors Ashfords and barrister Joe Curl.

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