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Industry roundup: 4 May

Corporate ransomware payments up 33% in Q1 2020

The new Coveware ransomware marketplace report for Q1 2020 has been published. The report aggregates observed trends from enterprise ransomware incidents. During the first quarter of 2020, ransomware threat actors took advantage of the economic and workplace disruption caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. Spam attacks related to the outbreak surged and seldom used ‘work-from-home’ network configurations led to increased ransomware attacks across the board. Some threat actor groups continued attacking healthcare organizations, while others refused to target them. The report shows victim demographics and resolution metrics based on actual ransomware cases handled by the Coveware Incident Response team.

In Q1 2020, the average enterprise ransom payment increased to US$111,605, up 33% from Q4 2019. Ransomware distributors increasingly targeted large enterprises and were successful in forcing ransom payments for the safe recovery of data. Large enterprise ransom payments are the minority by volume, but the size of the payments dramatically pulled up the average ransom payment. The median ransom payment remained relatively stable at US$44,021, up only slightly from the Q4 2019 median of US$41,179. The stability of the median reflects the fact that most ransom payments were modest relative to the average.  


PNC Paycheck Protection Program loans hit US$14bn

The PNC Financial Services Group has announced that the US Small Business Administration (SBA) has registered more than 70,500 Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans totalling US$14bn for PNC small business customers. These small businesses are estimated to employ more than 1 million people.

Of the loans for PNC customers processed and registered with the SBA, 85% were from PNC’s Business Banking segment, which services businesses, including non-profits, sole proprietors and independent contractors, with less than US$5m in annual revenues. Further, approximately 79% of the registered loans were for amounts of US$150,000 or less, with an additional 17% for amounts between US$150,000 and US$1m . The average loan size was less than US$200,000.


EU and Mexico agree trade agreement

The European Union and Mexico have concluded the last outstanding element of the negotiation of their new trade agreement. EU trade commissioner Phil Hogan and Mexican minister of Economy Graciela Márquez Colín agreed on the exact scope of the reciprocal opening of public procurement markets and a high level of predictability and transparency in public procurement processes. With this, the EU and Mexico can advance to the signature and ratification of this agreement in line with their respective rules and procedures.

Under the new EU-Mexico agreement, practically all trade in goods between the EU and Mexico will be duty-free. The agreement also now includes progressive rules on sustainable development, such as a commitment to effectively implementing the Paris Climate Agreement. It is also the first time that the EU agrees with a Latin American country on issues concerning investment protection. Simpler customs procedures will further help boost exports.

The broader Global Agreement, of which the trade agreement is an integral part, also covers the protection of human rights, as well as chapters on political and development cooperation. It will also be the very first EU trade agreement to include provisions to fight corruption, with measures to act against bribery and money laundering. The legal revision of the agreement is now being finalised. Once the process is concluded, the agreement will be translated into all EU languages. Following the translations, the Commission proposal will be transmitted for signature and conclusion to the Council and European Parliament.


Finablr finds US$1.3bn hole in its books

Payments and FX firm Finablr has discovered a previously unacknowledged debt pile of US$1.3bn. This is the latest blow to the company, which had its share suspended in March following the discovery of US$100m of undisclosed cheques and the exit of the company’s CEO.

As a result, Finablr hired forensic investigators Houlihan Lokey to act as an Independent Financial Adviser. As part of this role, Houlihan Lokey has worked with Kroll (in its role as independent investigators reporting to the independent directors of the Company) in conducting an exercise with Finablr’s creditors to establish the current indebtedness position of the Finablr Group. The members of the new management team of Finablr have been working closely with Houlihan Lokey and Kroll as part of this exercise based on the information available to them.

The results of this exercise currently indicate that the total net indebtedness of the Finablr Group may be approximately US$1.3bn (excluding any liabilities of the Travelex business). This is materially above the last reported figure for the Group’s indebtedness position as at 30 June 2019 and the levels of indebtedness previously disclosed to the Board. A statement from the company says that the Board cannot exclude the possibility that some of the proceeds of these borrowings may have been used for purposes outside of the Finablr Group.

The exercise to verify the Group’s indebtedness position is ongoing. The Company and Houlihan Lokey intend to engage further with the Group’s creditors to explore the options that may be available to the Group and its creditors, the statement concludes.


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