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MF Global Asia, Australian Filings, Astana Unit Buy: Bankruptcy

Liquidators of MF Global Holdings Ltd.’s Hong Kong units extended talks with potential buyers of the New York-based broker-dealer’s Asian businesses after receiving “a number of bids.”

Negotiations with potential investors will continue “with a view to entering into binding contracts by the end of this week,” Patrick Cowley, one of three provisional liquidators and principal at KPMG in Hong Kong, said in a statement.

The liquidators had received as many as 40 offers from international and regional financial institutions, as well as former competitors of MF Global, KPMG have said.

MF Global sought bankruptcy protection in the U.S. on Oct. 31 after suffering losses on European sovereign debt. The company listed liabilities of $39.7 billion and assets of $41 billion in Chapter 11 papers filed in New York.

ASIC Says Companies Entering External Administration Rise 18.3%

Australia had 2,961 companies go into external administration in the three months through September, up 18.3 percent from the same quarter a year earlier, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission said. For the calendar year to date, companies entering external administration rose 9.6 percent from a year ago, the regulator said in a statement on its website.

Kazakh Mayor’s Son-in-Law Acquires Astana Finance Insurance Unit

The insurance unit of AO Astana Finance, the Kazakh financial company that defaulted in 2009, was acquired by Kenes Rakishev, the son-in-law of Imangali Tasmagambetov, the mayor of the country’s capital.

Rakishev owns 100 percent of AO Insurance Company Astana Finance as of Oct. 26 after the central bank permitted him to become a “large shareholder,” the Almaty-based regulator said Nov. 7 in an e-mailed statement. No one was available for comment at the parent company when Bloomberg News called.

Astana became the third Kazakh lender to default after it stopped servicing its international debt in May 2009 as Kazakhstan slipped into its first recession in a decade. The company said in September that it planned to sell a 100 percent stake in its commercial bank and invited buyers to submit bids.

Astana Finance’s international creditors will absorb a loss of 80 percent on its bonds under an agreement reached in September. Holders of its foreign-currency debt will be repaid 20 cents on the dollar, receiving cash and bonds maturing in one and four years, according to the term sheet.

Personal Bankruptcies Fall in U.K., Newcastle Journal Says

U.K. personal bankruptcy filings dropped to the lowest level since 2004 in the third quarter, the Newcastle Journal said, citing the Insolvency Service. Individual insolvency filings fell in England and Wales to 30,219 for the period, down from 30,513 in the second quarter, the newspaper said.

Yell Talking to Lenders to Avert Covenant Breach, Times Says

Yell Group Plc (YELL), publisher of the U.K.’s yellow pages directories, has started talks to renegotiate covenants governing its loans, the Sunday Times reported Nov. 6, without saying how it got the information.

Chief Executive Officer Mike Pocock is in discussions with a syndicate of more than 300 lenders amid concern the publisher will breach the terms of more than 2.8 billion pounds ($4.5 billion) of loans amassed during a takeover spree, the newspaper said.

Bankrupt Irish Debtors May Be Able to Quit Mortgages, Post Says

Irish borrowers who go into personal bankruptcy may be able to walk away from their debts, including mortgage loans, after three years under new government bankruptcy proposals, the Sunday Business Post reported Nov. 6, without saying where it got the information.

Previously the process took 12 years, the newspaper reported. Irish Justice Minister Alan Shatter is also examining debt settlement arrangements not involving the courts, which may involve some element of mortgage forgiveness, the Sunday Business Post reported.

The proposals haven’t been finalized or discussed by the Irish government, the newspaper said, citing Shatter. Details of the proposals will be published before the end of the year, the newspaper said.

Tepco Finds Dangerous Level of Radiation at Fukushima Station

Tokyo Electric Power Co. found a dangerous level of radiation at its wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant, eight months after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that caused the worst atomic crisis in 25 years.

Workers at the company usually called Tepco detected 620 millisieverts of radiation an hour on the first floor of Reactor 3 on Nov. 3, the highest level found in that unit, it said.

The level of radiation is more than the 500-millisievert short-term dose recommended as the maximum for emergency workers in live-saving situations, according to the World Nuclear Association. The company and government officials are trying to contain the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl in 1986 after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami caused a loss of cooling and the meltdowns of three reactors.

Tepco on Nov. 4 won approval for a 900 billion yen ($11.6 billion) bailout from the government after the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe to avert bankruptcy and start paying compensation for the crisis.

Trade and Industry Minister Yukio Edano approved the support after Tepco committed to cutting 7,400 jobs and 2.5 trillion yen in costs. The utility forecast an annual loss of 600 billion yen, its second since the March earthquake and tsunami wrecked its Fukushima nuclear plant.

To contact the reporter on this story: Heather Smith in Paris at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at

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