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Dec 10, 2012

KBC to raise $1.6 bln in share sale as repays state aid

BRUSSELS, Dec 10 (Reuters) – Belgian banking and insurance
group KBC is selling 1.25 billion euros ($1.6 billion)
of new shares to shore up its capital position as it pays back
state aid to Belgium.

KBC, which received 7 billion euros from Belgium and the
region of Flanders during the 2008-2009 financial crisis, said
on Monday it would pay the 3 billion euros outstanding to
Belgium along with a 450 million euro premium on Dec. 17.

Nov 30, 2012

Ex-Fortis chiefs charged with market manipulation

BRUSSELS, Nov 30 (Reuters) – Two former chief executives of
Fortis have been charged in Belgium with misleading financial
markets before the group’s collapse.

The Belgian-Dutch bank and insurance group was rescued and
carved up in 2008 at the height of the financial crisis.

Nov 22, 2012

EU, Canada attempt final push towards free trade deal

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union and Canada will attempt a final push on Thursday towards a free trade agreement that could swell trade between the two by more than 20 percent.

EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht and Canadian Trade Minister Ed Fast meet in Brussels to resolve the knotty issues that officials have so far failed to unravel since negotiations began in May 2009. Their talks could extend into Friday.

Nov 20, 2012

Belgium sets new savings for 2013 budget deficit cut

BRUSSELS, Nov 20 (Reuters) – Belgium’s government agreed
extra savings on Tuesday to rein in its budget deficit in 2013
and take measures including a cap on wage hikes to reverse its
loss of competitiveness.

After five weeks of talks, including a final 16 hour push,
Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo’s six-party coalition announced 3.4
billion euros ($4.4 billion) of tax hikes and savings to cut the
deficit to 2.15 percent of GDP from 2.8 percent this year.

Nov 15, 2012

Top euro policymakers at odds over Greek debt fix

HELSINKI/BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union’s top economic official sought to rule out any write-off of Greece’s debt to governments on Thursday after a European central banker said for the first time that a “haircut” on part of it was probable.

A row between euro zone governments and the International Monetary Fund over how to make Greece’s giant debt mountain manageable is holding up the release of 31 billion euros ($39.5 billion) in emergency loans needed to keep Athens afloat.

Nov 8, 2012

Belgium, France to pump extra 5.5 billion euros into Dexia

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Belgium and France will pay 5.5 billion euros ($7 billion) to take almost full control of Dexia (DEXI.BR: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) in the hope this third bailout will be the last for the bank that was once the world’s largest municipal lender.

Dexia, which at its peak had business across Europe and a large U.S. empire, had relied on long-term lending serviced with short-term borrowing, which dried up in the financial crisis.

Nov 8, 2012

EU steps up solar panels trade battle with China

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union launched an investigation on Thursday into alleged state subsidies for Chinese solar panel manufacturers, intensifying the conflict over the multi-billion dollar solar power equipment market that is straining trade ties.

The EU’s executive body is already investigating allegations of Chinese manufacturers “dumping” solar panels in overseas markets, meaning deliberately selling products for less abroad than at home or at less than cost.

Nov 8, 2012

France, Belgium agree to pump 5.5 bln euros into Dexia

BRUSSELS, Nov 8 (Reuters) – France and Belgium have agreed
to pump 5.5 billion euros ($7.02 billion) into Dexia,
the stricken lender the two states were forced to bail out a
year ago, the Belgian finance ministry said on Thursday.

The prospect of throwing more money into Dexia, which
already absorbed 6.4 billion euros in funds in 2008, threatens
to undermine both countries’ efforts to rein in their deficits
at a time of intense scrutiny of euro zone budgets.

Nov 6, 2012

Moody’s cuts ArcelorMittal debt to junk status

BRUSSELS, Nov 6 (Reuters) – Agency Moody’s cut its rating
for the debt of ArcelorMittal to junk with a negative
outlook on Tuesday, reflecting a collapse in world steel markets
it said would get worse before they got better.

The move brings the world’s largest steelmaker to the verge
of a complete loss of its investment grade status, something the
company had said it was not “imperative” to avoid and would cost
a relatively contained $100 million.

Oct 31, 2012

ArcelorMittal cuts dividend after tumbling to loss

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – ArcelorMittal (ISPA.AS: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), the world’s largest steelmaker, said it would slash its dividend and focus on cutting debt after slowing demand from China and sluggish European markets drove it to a third-quarter loss.

The group, which makes 6-7 percent of the world’s steel, said on Wednesday there was little prospect of a quick recovery in the $500 billion steel industry – a gauge of the global economy – and scrapped its forecast for core profit per metric ton (1.1023 tons) in the second half of the year to be similar to that in the first.

    • 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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