FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Lufthansa has pledged a wide-ranging restructuring, from job cuts to sales of non-core assets, as it seeks to repay a 9 billion euro ($10.1 billion) state bailout and navigate deepening losses in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
FILE PHOTO: Airplanes of German carrier Lufthansa are parked at the Berlin Schoenefeld airport in Schoenefeld, Germany, May 26, 2020. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
The pledged cost cuts came as the German carrier posted a first-quarter net loss of 2.1 billion euros on Wednesday, only days after securing the bailout that is intended to help the airline ride out the crisis but will require it to cede some of its prized landing slots to rivals.
“In view of the very slow recovery in demand, we must now take far-reaching restructuring measures,” said Chief Executive Carsten Spohr.
The group, which includes Swiss, Austrian Airlines and Brussels Airlines, is bracing for a significant decline in 2020 earnings and has begun talks with labour representatives over cutbacks, the company added.
Brussels Airlines will reduce its fleet by 30% and its workforce by 25% while Austrian Airlines’ fleet and personnel costs are to be cut by 20%.
The sale of non-core operations is also on the cards in the medium term, the group said, having postponed the planned sale of parts of airline caterer LSG in March.
The first-quarter loss, which widened from 342 million euros a year earlier, was driven by writedowns of 266 million euros on its fleet. There were also writedowns on the book value of LSG North America and budget carrier Eurowings, of 100 million and 57 million euros respectively.
A slump in fuel hedging contracts was another 950 million euro burden on the bottom line.
Shares in the group were up 3% in early trade, though analysts expect the national carrier to be removed from Germany’s benchmark blue-chip DAX for the first time since the index was launched in 1988.
Lufthansa’s April passenger numbers slumped 98% year on year to 241,000, but it laid out plans on Wednesday to increase capacity in September to reach 40% of what it had scheduled before the pandemic.
($1 = 0.8917 euros)
Reporting by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Carmel Crimmins and David Goodman
India to have a ‘window’ for Bitcoin, says minister amid crypto ban FUD
The Ministry of Finance of India continues to form a careful position on private cryptocurrencies.
The minister of finance of India, Nirmala Sitharaman, has given a ray of hope for the Indian cryptocurrency community as more fear, uncertainty and doubt circulate regarding a supposedly impending ban on digital assets.
“From our side, we are very clear that we are not shutting all options off. We will allow certain windows for people use, so that experiments on the blockchain, Bitcoins or cryptocurrency […] and fintech, which depend on such experiments, will have that window available for them. We are not going to shut it off,” she said.
Sitharaman said that the ministry is finalizing a cabinet note on crypto as India continues formulating its official stance on the asset class. “It is nearing completion, and then it will be taken to the cabinet. The Supreme Court had commented on cryptocurrency. We are very clear that the Reserve Bank of India will take a call on an official cryptocurrency,” she said.
After India’s supreme court lifted a crypto banking ban one year ago, reports of a new ban started circulating in early 2021. In February, another anonymous Indian official claimed that the government was about to introduce a complete ban on crypto, giving investors up to six months to liquidate their holdings.
On Sunday, Reuters published a report citing an anonymous senior government official who claimed that India is preparing to enforce a blanket ban on crypto and impose major penalties on rule-breakers. As part of an alleged bill, India is planning to criminalize “possession, issuance, mining, trading and transferring crypto-assets,” the source claimed.
Despite reports of a ban from anonymous sources continuing to surface, Sitharaman said in early March that the ministry wants to form a “calibrated” stance on digital assets.
Nischal Shetty, founder of local crypto exchange WazirX, seemed optimistic about Sitharaman’s comments in a tweet, stating that it is time for the Indian crypto community to build.
There you go! #Bitcoin crypto will NOT be shut off.
CBDC does not mean shutting off other Crypto assets & utilities.
India, your time is here. Time to BUIDL and win
— Nischal (WazirX) ⚡️ (@NischalShetty) March 14, 2021
The RBI and the Ministry of Finance did not immediately respond to Cointelegraph’s request for comment.
Fintech banker McLaughlin hunts bigger deal after upsized SPAC IPO
NEW YORK (Reuters) – The blank check firm co-founded by one of the most prominent U.S. financial technology investment bankers will broaden its search for merger partners to companies worth up to $10 billion after pricing a larger initial public offering (IPO).
Steve McLaughlin started FT Partners in 2001 and since then, the fintech-focused investment bank has worked on mergers and acquisitions and public and private fundraising for the likes of BlackRock Inc, StoneCo Ltd and GreenSky Inc.
An alumnus of Goldman Sachs, McLaughlin and FT Partners have also been involved in advising a half-dozen firms in mergers with so-called special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs), most recently mobile bank MoneyLion’s $2.9 billion combination with Fusion Acquisition Corp.
Alongside Gene Yoon, founder of technology-focused investment firm Bregal Sagemount, McLaughlin is now sponsoring his own SPAC. Independence Holdings Corp. priced a $435 million IPO on Monday, having increased the number of units sold due to investor demand.
SPACs are shell companies that raise funds from investors to take a private company public.
Pulling in extra cash and fully exercising the greenshoe, a share allotment potentially sold in the days after an IPO prices, McLaughlin told Reuters on Tuesday, will allow Independence to target larger fintech companies, beyond the $5 billion maximum size previously considered.
He added a deal involving a company that processes payments between businesses, or one providing financial management services, would be likely for Independence.
“We provide an incredibly attractive option for a company as we’ve successfully taken many companies through this complex process, so we can give comfort to founders and investors along the way,” McLaughlin said.
Despite heightened investor interest in cryptocurrencies, McLaughlin said Independence wouldn’t be investing in a firm in that industry because most businesses are still too early in their development.
He added it was highly unlikely that Independence would end up merging with a client of his investment bank.
Source: Reuters – Fintech banker McLaughlin hunts bigger deal after upsized SPAC IPO
Trade with the Official CFD Partners of AC Milan
Former Disney executives Mayer and Staggs plan new SPAC – source
(Reuters) – Former Walt Disney Co executives Kevin Mayer and Thomas Staggs plan to raise $300 million in an initial public offering for a new special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), a person familiar with the matter said on Thursday.
The duo’s first SPAC, Forest Road Acquisition Corp, agreed a three-way merger last week with fitness companies Beachbody LLC and Myx Fitness LLC that was valued at around $2.9 billion.
Former basketball star Shaquille O’Neal, who is also on the board of directors at pizza chain Papa John’s International Inc, and Martin Luther King III, the oldest son of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr, are working for Forest Road II as a strategic advisor and a director, respectively, the source said.
Mayer and Staggs will serve as co-chief executives and co-chairmen of the new SPAC, the source said. They had worked with the first Forest Road SPAC as a strategic advisor and director, respectively.
The source requested anonymity ahead of a regulatory disclosure on the SPAC IPO.
Mayer was Disney’s top streaming executive before he left the media giant last year to become the chief executive of popular video app TikTok. He departed the company three months after joining. Staggs worked at Disney for 26 years and held various roles including chief operating officer.
SPACs are shell companies that raise funds to take a private company public. They have gained immense popularity since last year, as they allow companies to go public by eschewing traditional IPOs.
A string of high-profile SPACs have been raised in the last 12 months, including by financial investors William Ackman and Barry Sternlicht, former U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan and ex-NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Source: Reuters – Former Disney executives Mayer and Staggs plan new SPAC-source
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Global firms raise $546 billion in January as SPAC frenzy continues
(Reuters) – Companies raised $546 billion from new bond and share issues in January, as a flood of central bank money-printing and recovering stock markets brought record numbers of new listings, SPAC deals and share sales, Refinitiv data showed on Wednesday.
The numbers included $106.15 billion in initial public offerings (IPOs), SPACs and secondary offerings, with the amount of money raised by SPACs alone soaring 20 times to $24.26 billion from a year earlier, the data showed.
Companies also raised nearly $439.9 billion in corporate debt in January, a 5% fall since the same period last year, but still the second largest January in 25 years.
A SPAC, a shell company that raises money in an IPO before later merging with a privately held company to take the latter public, has become many investors structure of choice over the past year.
January’s haul was already 30% of a total $79 billion raised by SPACs in the whole of 2020.
Traditional IPO volumes in the United States, however, remained higher than SPACs in January, hitting a 25-year high of $33.9 billion.
Some 47% new bond and share issues were U.S. offerings in January this year, with China second with $23.96 billion.
Nasdaq was the clear winner among exchanges, with 167 issues raising $41.12 billion, followed by the New York Stock Exchange and the Hong Kong Exchange a close third, with both raking in a little more than $18 billion respectively.
That was in stark contrast to European financial hubs London and Frankfurt, which raised $4.29 billion and $1.72 billion respectively.
Chinese online video company Kuaishou Technology is the biggest IPO globally so far this year, raising $5.42 billion in Hong Kong, followed by Polish parcel locker business InPost SA which raised $3.40 billion in Amsterdam.
Source: Reuters – Global firms raise $546 billion in January as SPAC frenzy continues
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