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Liberty Mutual looking to sell overseas businesses

Boston-based Liberty Mutual is exploring selling its businesses in Spain, Portugal, and Ireland.Barry Chin


Liberty Mutual is exploring a sale of its businesses in Spain, Portugal, and Ireland, according to people familiar with the matter, joining other American insurers retreating from the region. The Boston-based insurer is working with Bank of America on the possible divestments, which could fetch more than $1 billion, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private. The assets could attract interest from rival European insurers, the people said. Talks are still in early stages and may not lead to a transaction, the people said. Representatives for Liberty Mutual and Bank of America declined to comment. Liberty Mutual would join other peers who have sold noncore markets in Europe. New York-based MetLife in July 2021 agreed to sell its European life insurance operations for almost $700 million to Dutch insurer NN Group NV to streamline its global business. — BLOOMBERG NEWS



Rates retreat for a second week

The average long-term US mortgage rate has edged lower for the second time in as many weeks, though it remains more than double what it was a year ago — a significant hurdle for many would-be homebuyers. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported Wednesday that the average on the benchmark 30-year rate fell to 6.58 percent from 6.61 percent last week. A year ago the average rate was 3.1 percent. The rate for a 15-year mortgage, popular with those refinancing their homes, fell to 5.90 percent from 5.98 percent last week. It was 2.42 percent one year ago. Late last month, the average long-term US mortgage rate breached 7 percent for the first time since 2002. It climbed to 7.08 percent again earlier this month, but has pulled back in the two weeks since. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


Musk mocks Twitter T-shirts tied to Black Lives Matter

Elon Musk is courting more controversy at Twitter, posting a video making fun of old T-shirts at the social media service that date back to the early days of the Black Lives Matter movement. Musk wrote that he found the shirts with #StayWoke printed in a closet at the company’s San Francisco headquarters. In a post he later deleted, he said the shirts stem from the protests in Ferguson, Mo., that followed the 2014 fatal police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown. Musk linked to a 2015 report by the Justice Department on Brown’s death in the deleted post, writing that “‘Hands up don’t shoot’ was made up. The whole thing was a fiction.” In its 86-page report, the Justice Department said witnesses gave varying accounts of what Brown was doing with his hands as he moved toward Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot him. The tweets risk further unsettling advertisers being pressured to stay away from Twitter due to concerns about hate speech and misinformation on the platform. Activists earlier this week renewed calls for a commercial boycott of the social media company after Musk reinstated former president Trump’s account on the basis of a Twitter poll. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


The Amazon logo is seen in Douai, northern France, April 16, 2020. Michel Spingler/Associated Press


Lights, camera, Amazon

Amazon plans to spend more than $1 billion a year to produce movies that it will release in theaters, according to people familiar with the company’s plans, the largest commitment to cinemas by an Internet company. The world’s largest online retailer aims to make between 12 and 15 movies annually that will get a theatrical release, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the company is still sorting through its strategy. Amazon will release a smaller number of films in theaters next year and increase its output over time. That number of releases puts it on par with major studios such as Paramount Pictures. — BLOOMBERG NEWS



Lufthansa may go it alone on bid for former Alitalia

Lufthansa is evaluating a solo bid for Alitalia successor ITA Airways after talks between the Italian government and other potential suitors collapsed, according to people with the matter. The German airline group is looking through ITA’s data room and could make a bid to acquire the airline on its own, said the people, asking not to be identified because discussions are private. Lufthansa management is discussing a range of options, which include becoming a minority partner or walking away from any offer, said one of the people. Discussions remain preliminary and the airline has not decided on a definitive course of action, the person said. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


Customers yank more than $88 billion from Credit Suisse

Credit Suisse clients pulled as much as $88.3 billion of their money from the bank during the first few weeks of the quarter, underlining ongoing concerns over the bank’s restructuring efforts after years of scandals. The Zurich-based bank warned on Wednesday that it will face a loss of up to $1.6 billion for the three final months of the year, partly as a result of the decline in wealth and asset management client funds from the start of October to Nov. 11. That’s potentially the worst exodus since the financial crisis. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


The Nordstrom flagship store in New York. Gabby Jones/Bloomberg


Markdowns also drag down Nordstrom shares

Nordstrom shares fell after saying higher discounts are hurting profitability at its upscale department stores and discount chain. The retailer reiterated its full-year forecasts despite beating analyst estimates for sales and profit in the third quarter that ended Oct. 29, suggesting tough months ahead. Disappointing margins were blamed on a higher rate of promotions and the company said it expects the magnitude of markdowns to be the same this quarter. The wave of discounts is a result of bloated merchandise stockpiles across the industry and attempts to win back shoppers who are spending more of their budgets on higher-priced food, gas, and housing. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


Emergency slides degraded while planes were parked during pandemic

Emergency slides on Airbus SE A380 superjumbos are in danger of bursting when deployed after suffering degradation while jets were idled during the coronavirus crisis, Europe’s aviation regulator warned. Operators of the double-decker must replace escape chutes on two over-wing and six upper-deck exits when returning their aircraft to service, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency said, citing examples of slides that split apart when inflated during routine overhaul. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


British postal workers to strike during Black Friday

UK postal services over Black Friday and the build up to Christmas are set to be disrupted after a trade union rejected what Royal Mail called its “best and final offer.” The Communication Workers Union, which represents 115,000 Royal Mail staff, will strike Thursday and Friday, it said Wednesday. Unless an agreement is found, further strikes will take place on Nov. 30 and seven dates in December including Christmas Eve. — BLOOMBERG NEWS