Asia

India unveiled rules to help creditors recover loans due from large shadow lenders as a prolonged upheaval in the nation’s credit markets raises the risk of defaults by the financiers, Bloomberg News reported, The amended law provides a generic framework for insolvency and liquidation proceedings of systemically-important financial services providers, other than banks, according to a government statement on Friday. The 15-month-old credit crisis has choked economic growth to its slowest pace in six years, while company defaults on rupee bonds are at a record high.

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India’s central bank chief Shaktikanta Das called for stronger corporate governance at state-run lenders to make the country’s banking sector more efficient. Describing the lack of strict governance as the “elephant in the room,” Das said this had led to elevated levels of non-performing assets, capital shortfalls, fraud and inadequate risk management, Bloomberg News reported.

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An attempt by lenders to get PizzaExpress Ltd. to open talks on ways to prop up the troubled restaurant chain has failed to bring its Chinese owner to the negotiating table, Bloomberg News reported. The investors, holding 70% of PizzaExpress’s most senior bonds, sent a letter to the company a week ago pledging to provide new funds, according to people familiar with the matter.

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India has amended its insolvency and bankruptcy rules to allow for greater flexibility in resolving problems at troubled non-banking finance companies (NBFCs), the government said in a statement on Friday, Reuters reported. The change follows debt defaults at shadow lender Dewan Housing which owes close to 1 trillion rupees ($14 billion) to its debtors, who include banks and mutual funds. The new rules however, say insolvency proceedings against such NBFCs or financial service providers can only go ahead if the appropriate regulator requests such action.

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Even as Hong Kong has reduced down-payment requirements to help young professionals and families to buy homes, banks are beefing up mortgage application standards to ensure that a recession does not saddle them with bad loans, bankers and mortgage brokers said, Reuters reported. Last month, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, struggling to restore confidence in her administration after five months of civil unrest, approved rules allowing first-time homebuyers to borrow as much as 90% of a HK$8 million ($1 million) home’s cost.

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Japan Post Bank Co. said it would be cautious about future investment in bundled corporate loans after raising holdings last quarter, as financial authorities increase scrutiny of the practice, Bloomberg News reported. The postal savings giant boosted its holdings of collateralized loan obligations by 15% from June to 1.52 trillion yen ($14 billion) as of Sept. 30, an earnings presentation showed Thursday.

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The Indian economy continues to slow. The monthly Index of Industrial Production fell to an eight-year low in the month of September, contracting by over 4%. According to India’s central bank, growth in bank credit to industries in the same month fell to 2.7%, the lowest in a year, a Bloomberg View reported. While the numbers for services are a little better, even they stand at a two-year low. Economists have little faith that things will turn around on their own. The government desperately needs to revive investment.

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After posting the worst quarterly loss in India’s corporate history, Vodafone Group Plc’s besieged local venture is appealing for urgent relief from the government to help avert a collapse, Bloomberg News reported. Facing a $4 billion demand from India to cover past dues, Vodafone Idea Ltd. took a one-time charge that led to a net loss of 509 billion rupees ($7.1 billion) in the three months through September.

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The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) on Wednesday granted the market regulator SEBI one "last chance" to file its reply on the revised share delisting norms for companies under insolvency, Business Standard reported. A two-member NCLAT bench headed by Chairperson Justice S J Mukhopadhaya has granted one day time to SEBI for filing of affidavit and said that failing which, it will proceed ahead in the matter. "It is stated that the copy of the affidavit filed by SEBI has been served on the counsel for the parties.

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Indian shares edged lower on Thursday, after retail inflation breached the central bank’s medium-term target of 4% for the first time in 15 months, while lenders fretted about a possible insolvency of Vodafone Idea, Reuters reported. Annual retail inflation rose to 4.62% last month on higher food prices, but most economists expect the central bank to look past the inflation print and cut rates for a sixth straight time next month. Higher inflation and reports of a liquidation of Vodafone Idea were pulling down the markets, said Sumit Pokharna, vice president, Kotak Securities.

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