Asia

India’s Supreme Court ruled that wireless carriers including Bharti Airtel Ltd. and Vodafone Idea Ltd. need to pay $13 billion of dues to the government, rejecting an appeal by operators struggling to stem losses and reduce debt, Bloomberg News reported. A three-judge Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra on Thursday dismissed review petitions filed by the telecommunication companies against the October verdict, according to updates on the court’s website.

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A Deutsche Bank-led consortium’s efforts to buy out the debt of a power plant operator in eastern India have advanced, after no rival bidder emerged, Bloomberg News reported. The struggling utility is Jindal India Thermal Power Ltd., one of a string of power plants being put up for sale by banks stuck with their defaulting debt. The sector has been hit hard by oversupply in recent years, a consequence of a costly push to bridge India’s once chronic power deficit and expand reach to under-supplied rural areas. Power generators form a significant chunk of India’s $130 billion bad loan pile.

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Amid rising defaults and tighter liquidity for Chinese privately-owned enterprises, the nation’s banks are letting some companies fail, something Deutsche Bank AG says presents bigger opportunities for foreign investors in troubled debt, Bloomberg News reported. The German lender is an active distressed player in Asia Pacific and has bet on some of the biggest restructuring in the region, including commodities trader Noble Group Ltd. China is taking steps to allow more foreign investment into the country’s 2.37 trillion yuan ($344 billion) non-performing loan market. It will give U.S.

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Shandong Ruyi is facing serious disruption to its access to cotton supplies after the company, once hailed as the “LVMH of China”, was placed on an industry blacklist that will halt much of its trading in the commodity with major global groups, the Financial Times reported. Details from a recent arbitration case with a Bangladeshi group, in which Shandong Ruyi was ordered to pay compensation but has not, have also shone a spotlight on the extent of the Chinese company’s difficulties in paying off debts.

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Zambia is already restructuring, renegotiating or refinancing its extensive Chinese project finance debt, and Chinese companies are playing hardball, according to new research, CNBC reported. Southern Africa's third-largest economy is under pressure from an impending breakdown of its power supply and its inability to pay for electricity imports, and is staring down the barrel of further defaults on construction project financing and bond payments.

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India’s Economy Faces Severe Challenges

India’s economy is experiencing a sharp slowdown — to the consternation of many observers. For several years, analysts and organisations such as the IMF and World Bank have touted India as the fastest-growing major economy, with the world’s brightest medium-term outlook, the Financial Times reported in a commentary. But in December the Reserve Bank of India, the central bank, cut its forecast for 2019 growth in gross domestic product to 5 per cent. That headline figure actually understates the slowdown.

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A port operator in northeastern China once at the center of U.N. sanctions on North Korea is finding itself in another storm, Bloomberg News reported. Dandong Port Group Co. has regained attention after a controversial court ruling in favor of a state-led debt overhaul that forces steep losses on creditors and drew shareholders’ complaints about an opaque bankruptcy process. The court verdict also runs counter to an unprecedented roadmap that Beijing has just laid out to restore investor confidence via fair handling of bond defaults.

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Bondholders of Reliance Home Finance Ltd. have petitioned India’s National Company Law Tribunal to recover 35 billion rupees ($495 million) after the firm missed payments, Economic Times reported citing a copy of the application, Bloomberg News reported. IDBI Trusteeship, which represents the bondholders, wants the tribunal to seize Reliance Home Finance’s assets and bar the company from agreeing to any debt resolution deal with other lenders. The petition was under the Companies Act and a bankruptcy application is “not actively under consideration for now,” according to the report.

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China’s offshore corporate bond defaults rose to $3.6 billion in 2019, up from $3.3 billion the year before, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Tewoo’s dollar bonds were restructured with some investors agreeing to be paid just 37 to 67 cents on the dollar, depending on the maturity of the debt, Bloomberg News reported. China Minsheng Investment Group’s $300 million bond was paid by a Chinese bank guarantor. The company unveiled a plan to repay its $500 million note in October.

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