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Updated: Nov 20 2012, 07:07am hrs
Spanish bank bad loans hit new high in Sept

Spanish banks, awaiting the first payments from a 100 billion-euro ($127 billion) European credit line, saw bad loans hit a new high in September, new data showed on Monday. The new figures won't affect the euro zone aid, aimed at cleaning up the toxic real estate assets from the lenders balance sheets, but reflect moves by the banks to be more realistic about the extent of their bad loans. A recent independent audit of Spanish banks concluded that they needed capital injections totalling 60 billion euros to ride out a severe economic crisis. Non-performing loans are on the rise because of an exercise of recognition due to the stress test which has resulted in a very in-depth analysis and obliged lenders to come up with provisions, said Jaime Guardiola, CEO at Banco Sabadell.

Thyssen seeks binding bids for US, Brazil plants

ThyssenKrupp will open its books to remaining prospective bidders for its US and Brazilian steel mills and ask them to make binding offers for the loss-making plants, the company said on Monday. ThyssenKrupp said in May it was considering all options for the mills, including a partnership or a sale, to halt losses there and concentrate on its European business. The plants were supposed to give it a foothold in the Americas but have struggled with rising costs and weak demand. In the second phase that has now been started, selected bidders will be given the opportunity to analyse the plants in a so-called 'due diligence' and to make binding offers, the German steel and technology group said in a statement. It reaffirmed the two steel mills that comprise Steel Americas unit could be sold in a bundle or separately.

IMF mission chief to remain in Cairo to discuss loan

The head of the International Monetary Fund's delegation to Egypt, negotiating a $4.8 billion financial package, is still in Cairo and will stay until the team's work is concluded, an IMF spokeswoman said. Egypt requested the loan in August, and the negotiating team has been in Cairo since the end of October. The IMF mission chief is still in Cairo working with the authorities. He will remain until the work has concluded, IMF spokeswoman Wafa Amr said by telephone. There is still more work to be done. It is the second time the delegation has extended its stay.

Airline SAS aims for final union deal

Scandinavian airline SAS on Monday sought a deal with the last union opposing its plans for severe cost cuts aimed at avoiding bankruptcy and securing the airline's long-term future. SAS, half owned by the governments of Sweden, Denmark and Norway, said it had secured a deal with seven of eight unions on wage cuts, working schedule changes and pensions and had only the cabin crew union of Denmark to go. The airline, hit by competition from lower-price rivals, last week announced plans to cut some salaries by up to 17% and lower overall staff to about 9,000 from 15,000 as it shrinks its business. That prompted media speculation SAS faced bankruptcy if it failed to get unions to agree to the cuts.

Iran starts building gas pipeline to Syria

An Iranian semi-official news agency says the country has started building a $10-billion natural gas pipeline to Syria as part of efforts to boost its energy sector that has been battered by international sanctions. Monday's report by the Fars news agency says the 1,500 kilometer (750 mile) pipeline will pass through Iraq before reaching Syria. It says Iran begun construction of the first phase of the project involving a 225 kilometer (140 mile) stretch at an estimated cost of $3 billion. Fars says the entire project is to be completed in the second half of 2013.