Asia

A growing risk of debt distress in low-income nations has made it crucial that countries agree how any bailout burden should be shared, a senior IMF official warned on Friday, the Financial Times reported. The comments, in a blog by Martin Muehleisen, director of the IMF’s strategy, policy and review department, reflect deepening concern over a build-up of opaque Chinese lending to developing countries.

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Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Ltd., which sent a shock through Indian financial markets last year when it defaulted on debt, faces a much-awaited coupon payment due Friday on overseas bonds, Bloomberg News reported. The so-called dim sum bonds, or offshore yuan-denominated bonds, are guaranteed by IL&FS Transportation Networks Ltd., a unit of IL&FS which has already defaulted on interest payments due on five rupee-denominated bonds, according to a Dec. 31 filing.

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India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi rode to power five years ago on his business friendly credentials and the promise of generating millions of jobs. Now an airline is on the verge of collapse, bringing Modi’s image under attack just months before national elections, Bloomberg News reported. Struggling in a competitive market where basic air fares can get as low as 2 cents, Jet Airways India Ltd., the country’s second-biggest airline, has piled on $1.1 billion in debt and failed to pay loans and salaries.

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Errant debtors are forever looking for ways to undermine creditor protection; but when lenders themselves start making a mockery of a fledgling insolvency law, nobody can save it, a Bloomberg View reported. That’s where India’s two-year-old bankruptcy regime is today, brought to the brink of irrelevance by the strain of resolving its most high-profile case: Essar Steel India Ltd. The billionaire Ruia brothers have used every trick in the book to ensure their prized asset stays in the family, despite owing financial creditors 508 billion rupees ($6.3 billion) in unpaid dues.

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Shares in Jiayuan International, a Chinese property developer, collapsed in late trading in Hong Kong on Thursday, underlining investors’ unease over a sector that is staggering under vast debts just as the world’s second-biggest economy slows. Analysts said that the stock, which closed down 81 per cent after a chaotic day’s trading that wiped more than $3bn from its market capitalisation, was engulfed by concern that Jiayuan would struggle to repay a $350m bond that was due this week.

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A company that recorded one of China’s biggest corporate bond defaults is emerging as the most popular name among the nation’s stock traders in 2019, Bloomberg News reported. Wintime Energy Co., a coal miner based in China’s northern Shanxi province, has surged 60 percent this year to lead the benchmark CSI 300 Index. Its shares have rallied as investors wait for it to announce details on restructuring efforts, even as it said it sees uncertainty over repaying a 1 billion yuan ($148 million) bond due next week.

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Chinese private companies may face an even more difficult ride in the domestic bond market in 2019 as billions of renminbi in maturing issuance conspire with reduced risk appetite, threatening an even bigger wave of defaults, the Financial Times reported. Last year’s Rmb151bn ($22.3bn) in defaults made it a banner year for credit events in the domestic corporate bond market.

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John Authers wrote earlier this week about how China will help set the course of U.S. stocks for a while. The unfortunate catch is that China’s economy is clearly in trouble, a Bloomberg View reported. Wall Street seems to hang much of that on President Donald Trump’s trade war, which certainly doesn’t help. But there are disturbing signs China’s problems have deep roots, Noah Smith writes. Ever since the financial crisis, he notes, China’s productivity has been weak. This, along with flagging population growth, is a toxic economic combo.

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In a related story, Reuters reported that Etihad Airways has offered to invest in debt-laden Indian carrier Jet Airways Ltd at 150 rupees ($2.11) per share, along with an immediate release of $35 million after certain conditions are met, CNBC-TV18 reported here on Wednesday, citing sources. The offer comes at a staggering 49 percent discount to Jet’s closing price of 293.70 rupees on Tuesday. Jet Airways shares tumbled after the report, falling as much as 7.5 percent to 271.75 rupees in their biggest intraday percentage loss since Dec. 10, 2018.

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