Asia

China is in talks with Kenya on a debt-service suspension deal, its embassy in Nairobi said, days after the Paris Club agreed to delay $300 million in payments by the East African nation, Bloomberg News reported. China signed payment suspension agreements with 12 African countries and gave waivers on mature interest-free loans for 15 African nations under the G-20 framework, the embassy said in an emailed statement, without providing details.

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A South Korean court sentenced Samsung Electronics vice chairman Jay Y. Lee to two and a half years in prison on Monday, which could delay the group’s ownership restructuring following the death of Lee’s father in October, Reuters reported. The ruling also cements a major shift in South Korea’s view on wrongdoings committed by the owners of the country’s powerful conglomerates, or chaebol, which led the country’s economic rise after the Korean War on the back of what has been criticised as cozy relations with politicians.

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China’s economy expanded by 2.3% in 2020, roaring back from a historic contraction in the early months of the year to become the only major world economy to grow in what was a pandemic-ravaged year, the Wall Street Journal reported. China’s ability to expand, even as the world struggled to control a deadly virus that has killed more than two million people, underscores the country’s success in largely taming the coronavirus within its borders and further cements its place as the dominant economy in Asia. China’s growth makes it an outlier among large economies.

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South Korea’s Eastar Jet filed for court receivership this week, a Seoul court said on Friday, as the pandemic-hit budget airline fights for its survival, considering options such as a merger and acquisition among strategies to stay in business, Reuters reported. The airline laid off about 700 of roughly 1,600 employees last April due to the coronavirus fallout and has struggled to find a strategic investor since July, when No.1 budget carrier Jeju Air Co Ltd scrapped a plan to acquire it.

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Creditors seeking to regain Bitcoin lost on the Japanese exchange Mt. Gox in 2014 have a chance to get their digital assets back before legal claims are settled, Bloomberg News reported. CoinLab Inc. said an agreement with Nobuaki Kobayashi, the trustee to the Mt. Gox bankruptcy, and MGIFLP, a unit of Fortress Investment Group LLC, will allow creditors to consider an offer of as much as 90% of the remaining Bitcoin tied up in the bankruptcy.
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While defaults were once considered a rare occurrence in China’s bond market — with many borrowers having relied on financial support or a bailout in times of trouble — the past three years combined saw a record number of delinquencies, according to a Bloomberg News analysis. Defaults eased off for much of 2020 as policymakers sought to limit economic damage by the coronavirus outbreak, before picking up again at the end of the year. The risks continue in 2021, according to analysts. After years of debt-fueled spending, Chinese companies are under increasing pressure.

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Most of AirAsia X Bhd’s lessors support a restructuring plan, and the Malaysian airline has received interest from potential investors for fundraising after reorganization, court documents filed this month show, Reuters reported. In emails attached to the court filings, supportive lessors said that they wanted to continue discussions with the budget airline and potential new investors, seeking more equitable terms and new commercial arrangements.

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India’s bankruptcy law faces a vital test as creditor banks vote on a winning bid for the first financial company to go through insolvency resolution, a process pitting US distressed-debt fund Oaktree Capital against India’s Piramal Group, the Financial Times reported. Real estate lender Dewan Housing Finance Corporation, known as DHFL, was the first financial group forced into insolvency in November 2019 after defaulting on about $12bn in debt.

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China's first regulation on individual bankruptcy, adopted in August in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, will play a big role in stimulating the country's market vitality, maintaining its social stability and helping it improve its credit system, a high-placed bankruptcy court official in the city said, China Daily reported. The regulation takes effect on March 1.

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The number of bankruptcies in the hotel industry in Japan in 2020 jumped 57.3% from the previous year to 118, according to Tokyo Shoko Research Ltd, the Japan Times reported. The annual total surpassed 100 for the first time since 2013, mainly due to the impact of the novel coronavirus epidemic, the credit research firm said Tuesday. Liabilities left by collapsed hotel operators totaled ¥58 billion, with failures of midsize or larger firms increasing.

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