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Seat Pagine, Danish Banks, Madoff Kuwaiti Claims: Bankruptcy

Seat Pagine Gialle SpA said it began talks on debt restructuring after bondholders showed they’re open to considering “solutions” to restoring Italy’s largest phone-directory publisher to financial health.

Investors in the so-called “Lighthouse” bond have started negotiations through their adviser, Lazard Ltd., the Turin-based company said in a statement today.

Senior lender Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc and a group of senior secured noteholders indicated they’re willing to consider how to stabilize Seat Pagine’s long-term financial structure, and “this is a positive response for the effective management of the negotiation process,” the publisher said.

Seat Pagine’s net debt at the end of June was 2.68 billion euros ($3.86 billion), compared with 2.73 billion euros as of Dec. 31. The company hired Rothschild in May as adviser to reorganize its debt. Lighthouse is a 1.3 billion-euro junior bond.

The publisher’s strategic guidelines for 2011 through 2013, which its board approved today, will provide “an immediate impetus” to the negotiations, with further terms for the talks to be agreed on with the creditors in coming months, Seat Pagine said.

Moody’s Says It May Reconsider Danish Bank Rating Downgrades

Denmark’s bank rescue bill, agreed on by lawmakers last week, may prompt Moody’s Investors Service to reconsider its downgrades of the country’s lenders, a press official said by e-mail on Aug. 26.

Moody’s said the Danish lawmaker agreement to help lenders avoid insolvencies by spurring consolidation is credit positive for the industry.

The plan “should increase market access for Danish regional and local banks, which international investors have shunned since the collapse of Amagerbanken in February 2011,” Moody’s said in a statement today.

Danish banks have faced an international funding wall this year after senior creditors took losses on the failures of regional lenders Fjordbank Mors A/S and Amagerbanken A/S.

Danish lawmakers on Aug. 25 said they agreed on the country’s fourth bank bill since 2008 to spur takeovers and sidestep the European Union’s harshest resolution laws.

The package, which amends legislation that triggered the senior creditor losses in bank insolvencies, has yet to be passed in parliament. The bill will allow the government to assume troubled lenders’ bad loans in the event of takeovers, Economy Minister Brian Mikkelsen said. The cost of the plan, which also allows merging banks to tap the depositor guarantee fund, will be borne by the industry, he said.

Moody’s downgraded six Danish banks in May, including the country’s biggest, Danske Bank A/S, citing the resolution laws. Denmark’s wind-down agency Finansiel Stabilitet fired 60 employees at Amagerbanken, the Financial Services Union said on its website.

Madoff Trustee Seeks $95 Million From Kuwaiti Bank, Feeder Funds

The liquidator of Bernard Madoff’s firm sued the National Bank of Kuwait S.A.K. in one of five lawsuits demanding return of about $95 million in funds withdrawn from a so-called feeder fund to the Ponzi scheme.

The Kuwait bank withdrew $18.7 million from Fairfield Sentry Ltd., one of the larger feeder funds, taking money that belonged to customers of the jailed con man, trustee Irving Picard said in a complaint posted on his website Aug. 25.

Picard, who has filed more than 1,000 suits, is pursuing comparatively small amounts from investors who redeemed money from the feeders before Madoff’s 2008 arrest. The trustee’s settlement with Walter Noel’s Fairfield Sentry was approved in court in June.

Lehman’s Swiss Company Claims 87.7 Billion Francs From Affiliate

The liquidator of Lehman Brothers Finance AG in Switzerland said it filed 87.7 billion Swiss francs ($106.6 million) in claims against affiliates, receiving in exchange 66.1 billion Swiss francs in claims from companies in the Lehman group.

Liquidator PricewaterhouseCoopers AG of Zurich published a report on the company in bankruptcy court in New York.

Saab Auto Seeks More Cash While Not Ruling Out Reorganization

Saab Automobile is working primarily on raising more funds to survive over the next several days, while not ruling out filing for reorganization to protect itself from creditors, a spokesman said.

“We’re still focusing on securing financing,” Eric Geers said in a phone interview on Aug. 26. “But in order to ensure the continued security of Saab, we remain open to all available options.”

Swedish Automobile NV, Saab’s Dutch owner, said in a statement that it’s “aware” of media reports that Saab may be planning a voluntary reorganization. Swedish public radio reported last week that Saab is preparing such a court filing, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter.

The automaker, which General Motors Co. sold last year, suspended production in late March amid a cash crunch, and the factory at Saab’s Trollhaettan, Sweden, headquarters has been quiet since early June. Saab delayed paying wages last week, the third consecutive postponement in as many months, prompting labor leaders to start a process that may lead them to seek a bankruptcy declaration against the carmaker in two weeks.

The Swedish government’s Debt Enforcement Agency started collection proceedings this month at the request of component suppliers with unpaid bills.

GM put Saab into reorganization proceedings for about six months in 2009, allowing the division to cut most of its debts to suppliers.

Tepco Says It May Receive 500,000 Claims for Fukushima Damages

Tokyo Electric Power Co. may receive as many as 500,000 claims from individuals and companies for damages through to the end of August after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Managing Director Naomi Hirose said.

The company has paid out 112 billion yen ($1.5 billion) in initial compensation to those affected by the radiation spewing from its Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear station, Hirose told reporters at a press briefing in Tokyo.

The company hasn’t estimated how much it will have to pay out in damages for the disaster.

Q-Cells Hires Houlihan Lokey to Look Into Mid-Term Financing

Q-Cells SE, the German solar cell and module maker whose shares have tumbled 64 percent this year, hired investment bank Houlihan Lokey to look into mid-term financing.

The manufacturer mandated the Los Angeles-based financial adviser recently, spokeswoman Ina von Spies said on Aug. 26 in a phone interview.

Q-Cells and its peers Solarworld AG and Conergy AG are struggling to offset a first half with low demand in Europe, where Germany, Italy and France have cut solar subsidies in the past 12 months. They’re also under pressure from Chinese manufacturers that have boosted production capacity just as cell and module prices slumped amid lower demand.

While Q-Cells is “probing” whether to insure guarantees linked to its solar products, the move has “absolutely nothing” to do with a possible bankruptcy scenario, von Spies said.

“There’s simply a trend in the industry to offer these insurances” for product guarantees that can last up to 25 years, she said.

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