Asia

Hong Kong is being threatened by a “Tsunami-like” cataclysm, the city’s finance chief has warned, as the new coronavirus devastates businesses already hobbled by months of anti-government protests, Bloomberg News reported. The financial hub’s lack of a bankruptcy process will only exacerbate the pain. Unlike in the U.S., Australia and rival Singapore, businesses in Hong Kong don’t have recourse to any corporate rescue procedure when in difficulties.

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U.S. satellite broadband provider Hughes Network Systems may have to shut its Indian operations due to unpaid levies owed to the government, which could put thousands of banking services at risk, a company letter seen by Reuters showed, Reuters reported. India’s Supreme Court late last year ordered a number of telecom companies, including Hughes and larger firms like Vodafone, to pay billions of dollars owed to the government. Hughes’ India unit provides services to defence, education and banking sectors in the country and told India’s telecoms minister in a letter dated Feb.

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Japan’s government stuck to its view the economy is recovering despite the sharpest contraction in more than five years last quarter and forecasts from private sector analysts that the coronavirus epidemic will trigger a recession, Bloomberg News reported. In it’s monthly report for February, released Thursday, the Cabinet Office maintained its stance the economy is “recovering at a moderate pace” amid continued weakness in manufacturing and exports.

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Dollar bonds of Chinese conglomerate HNA Group Co. jumped to the highest in almost seven months after plans emerged of a government seizure of the embattled firm, Bloomberg News reported. Once the poster child for China’s debt-fueled overseas acquisition spree, HNA could now find itself a takeover target of Beijing, a plan that may involve the sale of its lucrative airline assets in an effort to limit the economic damage of the coronavirus.

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Chinese lenders have cut a benchmark lending rate in a bid to prop up the country’s virus-hit economy as S&P warned that banks faced a surge of up to $1.1tn in bad loans, the Financial Times reported. Major lenders on Thursday reduced the one-year loan prime rate — a key lending rate used across China’s financial system — by 0.1 percentage points to 4.05 per cent. The reduction, which had been expected following the central bank’s own cut to its medium-term lending rate earlier this week, will ease lending conditions.

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China plans to take over indebted conglomerate HNA Group Co. and sell off its airline assets, the most dramatic step to date by the state to contain the deepening economic damage from the deadly coronavirus outbreak, Bloomberg News reported. The government of Hainan, the southern island province where HNA is based, is in talks to seize control of the group after the contagion hurt its ability to meet financial obligations, according to people familiar with the plans.

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The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) has dismissed the insolvency plea filed by IFCI against ACCIL Hospitality, a corporate guarantor of debt-ridden steel products maker Asian Colour Coated Ispat, Outlook reported. The tribunal observed that creditors of a debt-ridden company cannot file fresh insolvency plea against its corporate guarantor after collating the claims from principal borrowers as it would amount to "duplicity of claims being pressed".

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The poorer debt serviceability seen earlier among small businesses is spilling over to medium-sized enterprises, suggesting more vulnerabilities in the financial system, according to the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting minutes from earlier this month, the Bangkok Post reported. Risks in the period ahead have increased as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, delayed government spending and the intensifying drought, the MPC said.

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China is finally speeding up its creaky bankruptcy process after two years of record defaults. Within one day of filing paperwork, a Beijing court has accepted a creditor’s application to start the restructuring process for Peking University Founder Group — a state-linked conglomerate with connections to a prestigious university that’s tangled up in legal drama with a fugitive billionaire, Bloomberg News reported in a commentary. It could become one of China’s biggest defaults.

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India’s shadow banking crisis and revitalized bankruptcy process are creating new opportunities for Deutsche Bank AG as it steps up lending to cash-strapped tycoons and for purchases of distressed assets, Bloomberg News reported. The German lender is seeing three times the volume of financing deals compared with 2018, when the shadow banking problems erupted, according to Rahul Chawla, the head of global credit trading at Deutsche Bank’s India unit.

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