Asia

Indian authorities’ takeover of one of the country’s largest private banks could wipe out more than $1bn in high-risk bonds, dealing a blow to the mutual funds that piled into the market and leaving other lenders struggling to raise money, the Financial Times reported. The Reserve Bank of India last week took over Yes Bank, a once high-flying private lender that experienced a sharp rise in bad loans, after the bank struggled to find investors to shore up its capital base.

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India’s cash-strapped tycoons may need to ready more yard sales of their crown jewels as stock volatility and ongoing credit market uncertainty pressure their ability to pay loans. At issue is the loans that Indian business leaders often take against the backing of their main assets - stakes in their listed firms, Bloomberg News reported. The value of such pledged shares has shrunk as the coronavirus outbreak triggered a sell-off globally in risk assets and domestic credit troubles deepened, as evidenced by last week’s seizure of Yes Bank Ltd. by the central bank.

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Seoul-based labor lawyer Lee Seung-yeon’s phone has been ringing almost nonstop since the coronavirus hit South Korea, Bloomberg News reported. One of the calls is from an owner of a restaurant in tourist spot Myeongdong. The restaurateur is thinking of closing his business after revenue dwindled to 200,000 won ($168) a day. Others phone about trouble paying salaries or about getting government assistance. “The situation is really serious,” says Lee.

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The coronavirus epidemic is accelerating a shakeout in China’s property sector as a cash crunch forces distressed developers to throw in the towel, Bloomberg News reported. With lockdowns across the world’s most-populous nation entering their third month, smaller home builders are being pushed to the brink because they can’t get enough money from pre-sales of apartments to cover their costs. In the first two months of this year, around 105 real estate firms issued bankruptcy filing statements, after almost 500 collapses in 2019, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

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Indian criminal investigators have accused Yes Bank’s co-founder Rana Kapoor of receiving illicit kickbacks in 2018 to provide funds to a now bankrupt housing finance company, raising new questions about the troubled institution’s lending practices, the Financial Times reported. Mr Kapoor — who was forced to stand down as Yes Bank chief executive and managing director in early 2019 amid growing governance concerns — was arrested on Sunday morning, just days after the Reserve Bank of India seized control of the lender he founded.

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SoftBank Group Corp. fell by its most in more than seven years, after worsening sentiment around the coronavirus outbreak and the value of its global portfolio stung Masayoshi Son’s investment group, Bloomberg News reported. The shares fell 10% Monday, marking their biggest decline since October 2012 and wiping out gains since Paul Singer’s Elliott Management Corp. revealed a substantial stake in SoftBank.

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British Steel’s Chinese buyer intends to continue pursuing the company’s French arm after completing the takeover of the rest of the group and saving 3,200 jobs, the Financial Times reported. The rescue deal gives Jingye control of the manufacturer’s British and Dutch sites but not its factory in Hayange, northern France, the sale of which has been delayed by concerns from the government in Paris.

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Macrolink Holding Co on Friday became China’s first developer to default on its bonds due to the coronavirus outbreak as the industry struggles with stagnant property sales, Reuters reported. Privately owned Macrolink, which has a range of businesses including property development and tourism, failed to pay investors principle and interest on 1 billion yuan ($144 million) worth of five-year bonds due March 6, the Shanghai Clearing House said in a statement on its website.

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Japan's economy may have suffered a deeper contraction than initially thought in the December quarter on an expected downgrade to business spending figures, as the coronavirus outbreak fuelled fears of recession in the current quarter, the International New York Times reported on a Reuters story. Any downward revision in final gross domestic product (GDP) due on Monday could dash hopes for a domestic-led recovery in the export-reliant economy, with the October's sales tax hike hurting private consumption.

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The Securities Investors Association (Singapore) invited Hyflux Ltd. to a townhall meeting for the company to respond to investors’ concerns about its debt-restructuring plan, Bloomberg News reported. SIAS proposed holding the townhall between March 11 and 17, the association said in a letter posted on its website. The investor advocacy group will hold a follow-up meeting with its advisers and investors.

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