Asia

Brigita, a director at one of China’s largest car dealers, is running out of options. Her firm’s 100 outlets have been closed for about a month because of the coronavirus, cash reserves are dwindling and banks are reluctant to extend deadlines on billions of yuan in debt coming due over the next few months. There are also other creditors to think about, Bloomberg News reported. “If we can’t pay back the bonds, it will be very, very bad,” said Brigita, whose company has 10,000 employees and sells mid- to high-end car brands such as BMWs.

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British Steel’s Chinese bidder has written to the French government in an effort to save its stalling takeover of the collapsed UK manufacturer, the Financial Times reported. With the clock ticking down on a deadline for the deal to be completed, Chinese conglomerate Jingye has sent a letter to the French finance ministry to persuade Paris of the plan’s merits, said people with knowledge of the matter. UK officials agreed a £50m rescue deal with Jingye in November. Under the agreement, Jingye would take control of the group’s plants in Britain, France and the Netherlands.

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Hong Kong is being threatened by a “Tsunami-like” cataclysm, the city’s finance chief has warned, as the new coronavirus devastates businesses already hobbled by months of anti-government protests, Bloomberg News reported. The financial hub’s lack of a bankruptcy process will only exacerbate the pain. Unlike in the U.S., Australia and rival Singapore, businesses in Hong Kong don’t have recourse to any corporate rescue procedure when in difficulties.

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U.S. satellite broadband provider Hughes Network Systems may have to shut its Indian operations due to unpaid levies owed to the government, which could put thousands of banking services at risk, a company letter seen by Reuters showed, Reuters reported. India’s Supreme Court late last year ordered a number of telecom companies, including Hughes and larger firms like Vodafone, to pay billions of dollars owed to the government. Hughes’ India unit provides services to defence, education and banking sectors in the country and told India’s telecoms minister in a letter dated Feb.

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Japan’s government stuck to its view the economy is recovering despite the sharpest contraction in more than five years last quarter and forecasts from private sector analysts that the coronavirus epidemic will trigger a recession, Bloomberg News reported. In it’s monthly report for February, released Thursday, the Cabinet Office maintained its stance the economy is “recovering at a moderate pace” amid continued weakness in manufacturing and exports.

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Dollar bonds of Chinese conglomerate HNA Group Co. jumped to the highest in almost seven months after plans emerged of a government seizure of the embattled firm, Bloomberg News reported. Once the poster child for China’s debt-fueled overseas acquisition spree, HNA could now find itself a takeover target of Beijing, a plan that may involve the sale of its lucrative airline assets in an effort to limit the economic damage of the coronavirus.

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Chinese lenders have cut a benchmark lending rate in a bid to prop up the country’s virus-hit economy as S&P warned that banks faced a surge of up to $1.1tn in bad loans, the Financial Times reported. Major lenders on Thursday reduced the one-year loan prime rate — a key lending rate used across China’s financial system — by 0.1 percentage points to 4.05 per cent. The reduction, which had been expected following the central bank’s own cut to its medium-term lending rate earlier this week, will ease lending conditions.

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China plans to take over indebted conglomerate HNA Group Co. and sell off its airline assets, the most dramatic step to date by the state to contain the deepening economic damage from the deadly coronavirus outbreak, Bloomberg News reported. The government of Hainan, the southern island province where HNA is based, is in talks to seize control of the group after the contagion hurt its ability to meet financial obligations, according to people familiar with the plans.

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The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) has dismissed the insolvency plea filed by IFCI against ACCIL Hospitality, a corporate guarantor of debt-ridden steel products maker Asian Colour Coated Ispat, Outlook reported. The tribunal observed that creditors of a debt-ridden company cannot file fresh insolvency plea against its corporate guarantor after collating the claims from principal borrowers as it would amount to "duplicity of claims being pressed".

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The poorer debt serviceability seen earlier among small businesses is spilling over to medium-sized enterprises, suggesting more vulnerabilities in the financial system, according to the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting minutes from earlier this month, the Bangkok Post reported. Risks in the period ahead have increased as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, delayed government spending and the intensifying drought, the MPC said.

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