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Nov 20, 2014

EU should keep limit on bank bonus, adviser says in blow to UK

BRUSSELS/LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s relations with the European Union took another knock on Thursday when its legal challenge to a limit on bankers’ bonuses was rejected by an adviser to the bloc’s top court.

The EU law aims to curb the kind of risk-taking that led to the financial crisis by limiting bonuses awarded from 2015 to a sum no more than a banker’s fixed pay, or twice that level with shareholder approval.

Nov 17, 2014

HSBC charged in Belgium over money laundering, tax fraud

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – A Belgian judge has charged the Swiss private banking arm of HSBC Holdings Plc with tax fraud and money laundering, accusing the British-based bank of offering diamond dealers and other wealthy clients ways of hiding cash and evading tax.

Prosecutors said on Monday the charges related to business carried out by a Swiss unit of HSBC for wealth management clients, many of them from the large diamond trade in the northern Belgian city of Antwerp.

Nov 7, 2014

ArcelorMittal says buoyant steel offsetting weak mining

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – ArcelorMittal SA, the world’s largest steelmaker, reported a higher than expected profit in the third quarter and said improvements in its U.S. and European steel businesses are more than offsetting weak mining operations.

The company, which makes about 6 percent of the world’s steel and is one of the world’s largest iron ore producers, cut its estimate for global steel consumption because of a slowdown in China and heavy declines in Brazil and former Soviet states.

Oct 31, 2014

AB InBev profit capped by weak U.S., Brazil recession

BRUSSELS, Oct 31 (Reuters) – Anheuser-Busch InBev,
the world’s largest beer maker, increased earnings by less than
expected in the third quarter as U.S. consumers drank less,
Brazil fell into recession and Mexican cost savings dropped

The maker of Budweiser, Stella Artois and Corona has coped
with past sales falls by raising prices and selling more premium
beers, but the strategy had limited impact in the United States
and Brazil in the three months to Sept. 30, depressing earnings
in its two largest markets. Overall volumes dropped 2.7 percent.

Oct 30, 2014

Ukraine, Russia, EU agree to natural gas supply deal

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Ukraine, Russia and the European Union signed a deal on Thursday that will see Moscow resume vital supplies of gas to its ex-Soviet neighbor over the winter in return for payments funded in part by Kiev’s Western creditors.

After several failed rounds of talks in recent weeks as conflict rumbles on despite a ceasefire with pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine, the accord also eases concerns that a new “gas war” could disrupt winter supplies if energy to EU states, notably through pipelines shut down across Ukraine since June.

Oct 30, 2014

Trafigura could lift Nyrstar stake to tighten grip on zinc

LONDON/BRUSSELS, Oct 30 (Reuters) – Commodity trading giant
Trafigura could raise its stake in Belgium’s Nyrstar,
strengthening its grip on the world’s largest zinc producer as
tighter supplies and mine closures are forecast to boost prices
for the metal.

Industry sources say Trafigura, the world’s second-largest
metals trader, could as much as double its stake of just over 10
percent — a $120 million holding amassed this year which
already makes it the company’s top investor.

Oct 26, 2014

No new action needed at 2 Belgian banks failing ECB test

BRUSSELS, Oct 26 (Reuters) – Belgium’s central bank said on
Sunday that neither of the country’s two banks that failed the
Europe-wide health check would need to take extra measures
to boost their capital.

The European Central Bank found that Franco-Belgian lender
Dexia had a capital shortfall of 339.4 million euros
($430 million) at the end of 2013 and that AXA Bank Europe
was 200.2 million euros short.

Oct 24, 2014

World War One bombs a part of life in Belgium even 100 years on

YPRES Belgium (Reuters) – Pondfarm in western Belgium is used to digging up an unusual crop.

“It’s a fairly poor harvest,” said Stijn Butaye, 26, as he looked at a haul of 28 World War One shells unearthed with potatoes and beet in the last two weeks and awaiting collection by Belgium’s bomb disposal squad.

Oct 23, 2014

Merkel to Hollande: budget rigour, growth go together

BRUSSELS, Oct 23 (Reuters) – Germany and France both called
for economic growth to be at the heart of the euro zone’s budget
strategy on Thursday but German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned
against returning to the pre-crisis days of high spending to try
to revive the economy.

With the euro zone flirting with stagnation and deflation,
the leaders of the bloc’s two biggest economies put the emphasis
on growth as they arrived for an EU summit in Brussels. But
their comments betrayed starkly different visions on how to act.

Oct 23, 2014

Wet European summer dampens Heineken beer sales

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Heineken (HEIN.AS: Quote, Profile, Research), the world’s third-largest beer maker, reported lower than expected sales in the third quarter as Europeans drank less during a wet summer, but kept its forecast of improved profitability this year.

The Dutch brewer, which makes Europe’s best-selling Heineken lager as well as Sol, Tiger and Strongbow cider, said beer sales were barely changed in the July-Sept period with declines in both eastern and western Europe, but increases elsewhere.

    • About Phil

      "I am responsible for Reuters news out of Belgium and Luxembourg, which has led to many long nights outside parliament in Brussels awaiting news of fraught coalition talks and state bailouts of Belgian banks. I have previously worked in London, Amsterdam, where my work included consumer electronics group Philips and the Lockerbie trial, and Berlin, where I covered the Hamburg trials of suspected September 11 conspirators."
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