Parmalat flirts with default on debt burden

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Italian food conglomerate Parmalat came within hours of defaulting on its €4.5 billion of corporate debt in December, its worst financial crisis ever. The firm suffered a mysterious liquidity crunch: despite reporting €4.2 billion of cash and liquid assets in November, Parmalat was unable to repay a €150 million bond that matured on December 8.

Investors watched open-mouthed as Parmalat scrambled to obtain an emergency tax rebate from the Italian government in order to cover the

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