Asia

India’s central bank on Monday said the proportion of commercial lenders’ non-performing assets (NPAs) may fall slightly to 10.3 percent by March, thanks to measures including the creation of a bankruptcy code, Reuters reported. In June, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had said commercial lenders’ ratio for gross bad loans might even increase to 12.2 percent by March 2019, but they had fallen to 10.8 percent by end-September and now look to dip lower still.

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Chinese electric vehicle developer Faraday Future said on Monday it signed a new restructuring agreement with a unit of its main investor, Evergrande Health Industry Group Ltd, ending a bitter legal fight and clearing the path for raising funds, Reuters reported. Season Smart, which agreed to be bought by China’s Evergrande Health, will now own 32 percent preference shares, down from a previous 45 percent, according to filings.

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All politics is local, runs the old saw. In China, local governments lie at the root of the country’s debt problem—a problem likely only to grow in 2019, The Wall Street Journal reported. Most analysts see the Chinese government’s relatively low debt—equivalent to around 16% of GDP at the end of 2017, according to Moody’s—as a strength. But add in both official local government debt, and debt issued by off-balance sheet financing vehicles backed by local governments—known as LGFVs—and that ratio climbs to 60% of GDP.

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Tokyo District Court said on Monday it has extended the detention of ousted Nissan Motor chairman Carlos Ghosn until January 11th, The Irish Times reported. Mr Ghosn, accused of aggravated breach of trust, is facing allegations of making the car maker shoulder 1.85 billion yen (€14.6 million) in personal investment losses. The latest extension will see Ghosn remain in Tokyo’s main detention centre, where he has been confined since his first arrest on November 19th on allegations of financial misconduct.

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Indian power companies spent much of the past decade rushing to build coal-fired power plants in anticipation of surging electricity demand as economic growth took off. Now, many of those projects are mired in deep financial distress and private investment in coal power has ground to a near halt, the Financial Times reported. The sector has been hit by a host of problems: many plants have struggled to secure fuel supplies, and to clinch deals to sell their power to cash-strapped state distribution companies.

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More than 100 larger Turkish firms applied for protection from bankruptcy between Dec. 13 and Dec. 24, according to statements by Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan, AhvalNews.com reported. The number of limited and joint stock companies who have applied for protection from creditors increased to 979 since a currency crisis peaked in August, Pekcan said, according to a report yesterday in Hürriyet newspaper. She had put the number at 846 companies 11 days earlier.
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A growing chorus of observers expect debt defaults in Asia will spread as weakening currencies and tighter liquidity leave riskier borrowers with higher refinancing costs, Bloomberg News reported. Rising failures add to headwinds that governments have to navigate during a politically fraught 2019, with elections in India and Indonesia. Asian dollar bond market defaults tripled to at least nine in 2018 from the previous year, according to Bloomberg-compiled data. n India, a landmark default by shadow lender Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Ltd.

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Japan’s industrial output contracted in November and partially reversed the previous month’s gain, while retail sales slowed sharply as increasing global risks drag on demand and threaten the country’s export-reliant economy, Reuters reported. The 1.1 percent month-on-month fall, pressured by a pullback in production of general purpose machinery, compared with a median market forecast of a 1.9 percent decline, following a 2.9 percent increase in October, the data showed. While the latest figure was better than expected, the outlook pointed to a bumpier road for Japanese manufacturers.

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E-commerce giant JD.com Inc. is revamping operations in what analysts said is a bid to calm investors about the company’s plunging stock price and heavy reliance on its founder, the Wall Street Journal reported. JD Mall, the company’s main revenue-generating unit, will be restructured into three business departments, according to an internal document seen by the Journal. Responsibilities will be divided into platforms directly serving customers, business support services and infrastructure control and risk management, the document said.

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