10 things you need to know before European markets open

Good morning! Here’s what you need to know.

1. Ryanair Chief Executive Michael O’Leary broke months of media silence to defend his decision to recognise unions for the first time in 32 years, saying it would allow his airline to expand and help to keep staff costs down. O’Leary said the move was his idea and that he would not step down.

2. German energy company Innogy said its chief executive Peter Terium was leaving the company immediately, just days after the company issued a profit warning that sent its shares tumbling.Terium will be replaced in the interim by Uwe Tigges, chief human resources officer, until the supervisory board decides on a successor.

3. Mexican leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has an 11-percentage point lead ahead of next year’s presidential election, giving him a sizeable advantage even after new rivals formally entered the race. The former Mexico City mayor Lopez Obrador has vowed to combat inequality and corruption, but some international investors are concerned about suggestions that he might reverse parts of the government’s 2013-14 energy legislation.

4. Billionaire Marcelo Odebrecht, the highest-profile executive imprisoned in Brazil’s massive graft scandal, was released from jail on Tuesday to continue his sentence for corruption under house arrest. The former chief executive officer of Odebrecht, Latin America’s largest construction firm, was arrested in 2015 during an investigation dubbed Car Wash that exposed billions of dollars in kickbacks to politicians and executives at state-run companies in exchange for inflated contracts.

5. Saudi Arabia’s economy minister said that his country was studying the idea of creating a national privatisation fund to facilitate sales of state assets. “Personally I think it is a valid concept,” Mohammed al-Tuwaijri said in an interview.

6. EU antitrust regulators are set to clear Lufthansa’s acquisition of insolvent Air Berlin’s subsidiary LGW after the German carrier agreed to give up some Dusseldorf airport slots. Lufthansa also pledged not to apply for additional slots if they go back to the pool.

7. Britain’s pensions lifeboat voted against Toys R Us UK’s proposed rescue plan, casting doubt on the plan’s progress ahead of a crucial creditors meeting on Thursday. Earlier this month the British arm of Toys R Us said it would seek creditor approval for a restructuring plan involving closing at least 26 of its 105 stores in 2018 and reduced rent on the stores that stay open.

8. BNP Paribas plans to move 45 internal finance jobs from Paris to Lisbon. BNP Paribas already has more than 1,800 employees in Portugal, according to a recent job advert posted on its website through which it was recruiting for its Group Finance Service hub in Lisbon.

9. Mexican prosecutors are failing to systematically punish money launderers and tax authorities are too lax with potential drug money fronts such as real estate and luxury goods firms, according to a draft report on Mexico’s efforts to fight illicit finance. The report by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an international organisation that sets global standards for fighting illicit finance, highlights the tiny dents made by Mexican prosecutors in the financial networks of drug gangs and corrupt officials.

10. Jefferies has posted record revenues and profit for the year ended November, following buoyant debt and equity underwriting activity in the final three months of the year. The independent US investment bank said investment banking revenues in the quarter to the end of November jumped 27% from a year ago to US$528.7m.

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