Saab Automobile, Iceland Banks, Rangers, Japan Air: Bankruptcy
Spyker NV (SWAN), the Dutch owner of the Saab brand of cars, sued General Motors Co. (GM) in the U.S. for $3 billion over claims it sought to drive the company into bankruptcy by avoiding competition in the Chinese market.
GM’s actions had the “direct and intended objective” of forcing Saab into bankruptcy in December, Spyker said in a statement. The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Detroit, where GM is based.
The complaint accuses GM of “interfering with a transaction with Chinese investors that would have permitted Saab to restructure and remain a solvent, going concern.”
Saab hasn’t built cars since last year and filed for bankruptcy in December. Saab has been unprofitable for most of two decades, and GM, which acquired full control of the manufacturer in 2000, sold it in February 2010 to Spyker.
“Ever since we were forced to file for Saab Automobile’s bankruptcy in December of last year, we have worked relentlessly on the preparation for this lawsuit which seeks to compensate Spyker and Saab for the massive damages we have incurred as a result of GM’s unlawful actions,” Spyker Chief Executive Officer Victor Muller said in the statement.
Too-Big-to-Fail Prevention Is Tested in Post-Crisis Iceland
Iceland was brought to the brink of bankruptcy when its biggest banks failed four years ago. Now, the site of the world’s most spectacular financial collapse is becoming a pioneer in banking reform.
“We’ve been burned by this and that’s why we have to look very closely at what we need to do to prevent it happening again,” Economy MinisterSteingrimur J. Sigfusson said in an interview. “Icelanders are more interested in taking greater steps than small steps when it comes to regulating banking.”
His party, the junior member in Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir’s coalition, has submitted a motion to parliament to stop banks using state-backed deposits to finance risky investments. The move puts Iceland on course to become the first western nation since the global financial crisis hit five years ago to force banking conglomerates to split their business.
It’s a proposal that’s gaining traction elsewhere. Even Sanford “Sandy” Weill, whose 1998 creation of New York-based Citigroup Inc. (C) triggered the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act that paved the way for financial behemoths, now says investment banks should be separated from deposit-taking banks. Opponents including JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon say diverse businesses are needed to spread risk across divisions and stay competitive.
The Icelandic lawmaker who presented the motion, Alfheidur Ingadottir, says the best way to stop banks creating asset bubbles is to pass laws akin to the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act, which separated commercial and investment banking in the U.S. for more than six decades.
VTB Venture to Buy Vivacom for 130 Million Euros, Capital Says
Russia’s VTB Capital Plc. and Sofia-based Corporate Commercial Bank AD (6C9) reached an agreement with the creditors of Vivacom AD, Bulgaria’s second-biggest telecommunications company in terms of clients, to buy the company for 130 million euros ($160.6 million) and pay debts worth 588 million euros, Capital newspaper reported.
Vivacom creditors, which include Deutsche Bank AG, UBS AG (UBSN) and UniCredit SpA (UCG), along with Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc, have agreed to write off 64 percent of the company’s 1.6 billion debt, Capital said, citing unidentified people. The transaction is complicated and may take several months to complete, the newspaper said.
Sports Direct Chairman Ashley to Buy Rangers Stake, Herald Says
Mike Ashley, chairman of Sports Direct International Plc (SPD) and owner of Newcastle United Football Club, is in talks to buy a 10 percent stake in Rangers Football Club, the Herald newspaper said, without saying where it got the information.
A deal between Ashley and Charles Green, who headed the group that bought the Scottish soccer club’s assets from the administrators in June for 5.5 million pounds ($8.6 million), is expected to be completed in days, the Glasgow-based newspaper said.
Ashley, whose 69 percent stake in Sports Direct is valued at 1.2 billion pounds, and Green are also planning to form a venture to sell the club’s replica kit in Sports Direct stores, the Herald said.
Japan Air Seeks $8.5 Billion IPO in Turnaround From Bankruptcy
Japan Airlines Co. will seek 663 billion yen ($8.5 billion) in the second-biggest initial public offering this year, completing a two-year turnaround from bankruptcy into the world’s most profitable carrier.
The airline will list on the Tokyo Stock Exchange on Sept. 19, it said in a Ministry of Finance filing. Its government- backed owner will sell 175 million shares at a tentative price of 3,790 yen apiece. That values the carrier at about five times projected profit, less than half All Nippon Airways Co.’s about 12-times valuation.
The biggest initial public offering since Facebook Inc.’s marks JAL’s return after former Chairman Kazuo Inamori slashed jobs, cut debt and retired older, less fuel-efficient aircraft to revive profit. The proceeds will be used to return a 350 billion yen to the state-backed turnaround body that invested in the airline, while the government will get the remainder, a windfall of as much as 313 billion yen at the tentative price.
“The turnaround has been done extremely well,” said Peter Harbison, executive chairman at the Sydney-based Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation. “They’ve done a lot of sensible things in reducing routes and corporate complexity that dragged it down.”
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