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Sazka, Takefuji, Espanola del Zinc, Arcandor, Quinn: Bankruptcy

Three investment companies have made offers to acquire a majority stake in Sazka AS, a Czech lottery operator that has missed payments on its debt, Hospodarske Noviny reported today, citing Sazka shareholders and the investment companies.

Penta Investments and E-Invest have jointly offered to put 1.7 billion koruna ($94.4 million) into Sazka in exchange for a 54 percent stake, and KKCG, owned by Czech entrepreneur Karel Komarek, has offered 2.8 billion koruna for 67 percent, the newspaper reported. Entrepreneur Radovan Vitek has offered 1 billion for 100 percent of Sazka, it said.

Komarek and Vitek have bought part of Sazka’s debt and they have both filed for an insolvency procedure against the lottery company.

Takefuji Overcharged Interest at $29 Billion, Filing Shows

Takefuji Corp., the bankrupt Japanese consumer lender, overcharged customers a total of 2.4 trillion yen ($29 billion) in interest as of Oct. 31, according to a court document obtained by Bloomberg News.

That’s more than eight times the 273 billion yen Takefuji set aside for repayment claims as of March 2010, according to the document filed by the Tokyo-based company on Jan. 31. If Takefuji repaid all the overcharged interest, that would leave it with 75 billion yen in outstanding loans, the document said. Kentaro Itai, a spokesman for Takefuji, declined to comment.

The filing comes as Takefuji approaches its Feb. 28 deadline for customer repayment claims and seeks a sponsor to resume operations. Takefuji went bankrupt in September, becoming the biggest casualty of a government crackdown that capped interest rates at 20 percent and restricted lending to about a third of a borrower’s annual income.

“The figure of 2.4 trillion yen is a bit higher than earlier expected,” said Takehiro Tsuda, a Tokyo-based analyst at Citigroup Global Markets Japan. “But the reduced balance of outstanding loans is unlikely to dissuade potential sponsors” because the actual amount of interest repayments will probably be smaller, he said.

Espanola del Zinc Ends Appeal Against Bankruptcy, Board Resigns

Espanola del Zinc SA ended an appeal against bankruptcy proceedings after the investor who planned to take over the company withdrew a funding proposal, the company said in a stock market filing yesterday. The company’s board resigned and will cease to work for Espanola del Zinc when the process of liquidation begins.

Zimbabwe’s Royal Bank Reopens After Six Years, Newsday Reports

Royal Bank of Zimbabwe Ltd. reopened yesterday after a six-year closure, Newsday reported, citing Chief Executive Officer Jeff Mzwimbi.

The closely held lender was closed by Zimbabwe’s central bank after failing to meet minimum capital requirements amid Zimbabwe’s decade-long economic crisis, the Harare-based newspaper said. Royal now plans to lend primarily to farmers, Newsday reported.

Goerg Files Second Suit Against Middelhoff, FT Deutschland Says

German insolvency administrator Klaus Hubert Goerg filed a second suit for exaggerated business expenses and excessive bonuses against Thomas Middelhoff, the former chief executive officer of bankrupt retailer Arcandor AG, Financial Times Deutschland reported yesterday, citing an unidentified Goerg spokesman.

Middelhoff charged Arcandor for some private flights and flights for his previous employer, the newspaper said, citing Goerg. Middelhoff and some other executives at Arcandor also received and agreed on bonuses that were too high, according to the FTD.

“There hasn’t been any violation of duty by my client Thomas Middelhoff,” the managers’ lawyer Winfried Holtermueller said in an e-mailed statement from Middelhoff’s spokesman Feb. 19.

French Pharmacies Face Bankruptcy Risk, Le Parisien Reports

French pharmacy sales are falling after a government effort to rein in health care costs and 24 percent of France’s 22,259 pharmacies are at “strong risk” of bankruptcy in 2011, Le Parisien reported Feb. 20, citing estimates by credit-insurance company Coface.

France on average has one pharmacy for every 2,849 inhabitants, and 126 pharmacies went out of business last year, according to the newspaper. The number of pharmacy bankruptcies in 2010 was three times that in 2006, Le Parisien said.

Quinn Insurance Administrators Say Sale Delayed by Irish Vote

Quinn Insurance Ltd.’s sale has been delayed by Ireland’s general election, administrators of the insurer said in an e-mail to staff last week.

“We have completed our work, but there are a number of matters that need to be finalized by other parties before a decision on the sale can be announced,” the administrators said. The e-mail was confirmed by Kevin Sammon, a spokesman for the administrators. The election is set for Feb. 25.

Anglo Irish Bank Corp. Ltd. and Liberty Mutual Group Inc., the Boston-based insurer, may be named joint preferred bidder for Quinn Insurance Ltd., two people with knowledge of the talks said on Feb. 9. Zurich Financial Services AG has also been in talks to buy Quinn, they said.

With reporting by Peter Laca in Prague, Omar Valdimarsson in London, Ben Sills in Madrid and Takako Taniguchi in Tokyo, Holger Elfes in Dusseldorf, Brian Latham in Durban, Rudy Ruitenberg in Paris, Joe Brennan in Dublin.

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