Asia

A selloff in the Thai baht, underperforming stocks and pressure on the bond market reflect growing concern from global investors over political instability and the growth outlook in Southeast Asia’s second-biggest economy, analysts and fund managers say, Reuters reported. Thailand suffered its deepest economic contraction in two decades last quarter and a long haul to recovery looms as the COVID-19 pandemic has hammered its mainstay tourism industry.

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Laos faces a growing risk of debt distress and sovereign default, according to credit rating agencies and economic advisers, as coronavirus and a debt-laden power sector take their toll on one of Asia’s poorest countries, the Financial Times reported. The country’s foreign exchange reserves have fallen below $1bn, less than Laos’ annual debt payments, and ministry of finance officials have asked China, the country’s biggest creditor, for advice on a possible restructuring, the Financial Times has learnt. Moody’s Investors Service last month downgraded Laos’ issuer rating a notch to C

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Fitch Ratings has downgraded Indonesia-based developer PT Modernland Realty Tbk's (MDLN) Long-Term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) to 'C' from 'CC,’ Fitch Ratings reported. Fitch has also downgraded the rating on the USD150 million notes due 2021 and USD240 million notes due 2024 issued by its wholly owned subsidiaries, JGC Ventures Pte. Ltd. and Modernland Overseas Pte Ltd, respectively, and guaranteed by MDLN, to 'C' from 'CC'. The Recovery Rating on the notes remains at 'RR4'.

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While the new board of IL&FS and the directors appointed by it on the subsidiaries of Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Limited (IL&FS) have immunity from prosecution in India for the actions of the group in the past, they may not have the same protection in cases filed against the group firms outside the country, The Indian Express reported.

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Factories across Europe, Asia and North America continued to shake off the coronavirus gloom in August as the global economy emerged from a downturn triggered by the health crisis, thanks in part to massive fiscal and monetary stimulus programmes, Reuters reported. Surveys showing an expansion in manufacturing activity may reduce pressure on policymakers to take bolder steps to avert a deeper recession. J.P. Morgan’s measure of global manufacturing activity rose to a 21-month high of 51.8 in August from 50.6 in July, the second straight month above the neutral reading of 50.

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Efforts by banks including HSBC Holdings Plc and ABN Amro Bank NV to recover $3.5 billion from a collapsed oil trader in Singapore have hit a snag over attempts by a court-appointed manager to tap other assets of the family that ran the firm, Bloomberg News reported. PricewaterhouseCoopers, judicial managers of Hin Leong (Pte) Ltd., has urged the family to repay creditors with 95% of their assets, estimated to be worth at least S$2 billion ($1.5 billion), according to people familiar with the matter.

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India’s top court approved a plan giving phone companies 10 years to pay back a combined 1.4 trillion rupees ($19 billion) in outstanding fees, a significant concession from the original three month deadline but only half the time the carriers had sought, Bloomberg News reported. A three-judge panel on Tuesday said 10% of the dues must be paid in the first tranche and the written judgment, which is awaited, will provide more details on the repayment structure. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government had proposed a 20-year repayment window, which the telecom companies had supported.

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The economic fallout from the Covid-19 crisis is likely to tip several of the world’s poorest countries into debt distress, forcing official creditors and private-sector lenders to accept a reduction or restructuring of loan repayments, the Paris Club group of creditor countries said on Tuesday, the Financial Times reported.

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This isn’t the bottom for Chinese banks’ bad loans. Be prepared for more and weaker balance sheets. China’s lenders reported large declines in net profit for the first time in decades Sunday, citing dire economic conditions fueled by Covid-19, Bloomberg News reported in a commentary. In preparation to deal with ballooning bad debts and future losses, provisions rose sharply by 656 billion yuan ($95.8 billion) for souring loans. Prudent as that may seem, the worst is yet to appear. Much of this isn’t a surprise.

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India has rolled out a fresh plan to tackle an old problem: the mountain of bad loans held by its banks, Bloomberg News reported. With the pandemic forecast to push soured assets to a two-decade high, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is struggling to find cash to support the state-run lenders that hold most of it, and to spur credit to a shrinking economy. Most of the risky debt is concentrated in two sectors -- telecoms and utilities -- that are vulnerable to the economic slowdown, meaning if they face more trouble, then a massive amount of debt goes bad.

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