Asia

China’s sovereign-wealth fund is coming to the aid of a troubled lender in a 100 billion yuan ($14.28 billion) bailout, the latest show of government support for the banking sector, which has come under intensifying financial stress as the economy slows, The Wall Street Journal reported. Hengfeng Bank, based in eastern China’s Shandong Province, will sell 100 billion shares at a valuation of 1 yuan per share, almost all of them to government-backed investors, according to the bank and one of its backers.

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Debt Steady From Weak Housing Sales

Thailand's household debt in the second half this year has slowed from the first half thanks to weak housing demand, excess supply in the property market and tighter lending from financial institutions, the Bangkok Post reported. Car loans slowed down because of lower car and motorcycle sales, while most financial institutions retained strict scrutiny for credit lending, according to a report to the cabinet yesterday by state planning unit National Economic and Social Development Council (NESDC). Yet loans for other personal consumption increased, mainly for credit cards.

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Anti-government protests have prompted investors to pull some $5bn out of Hong Kong since April, according to the Bank of England, the Financial Times reported. That amount is equivalent to 1.25 per cent of the gross domestic product of the Asia financial hub, the UK central bank said in its biannual Financial Stability Report. The bank cited data from EPFR Global, Refinitiv and its own calculations. However, the $5bn in outflows from investment funds since April is modest in the context of Hong Kong’s monetary system.

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A tribunal has started insolvency proceedings in the case of Chennai-based wind turbine manufacturer ReGen Powertech, emphasising the dire times the wind energy sector is passing through, The Economic Times reported. The National Company Law Tribunal ordered the commencement of a corporate insolvency resolution process of ReGen Powertech on December 9, the interim resolution professional said in a notice dated December 13 in the Times of India. “This does not come as a surprise… They have not been able to ramp up their order book since 2017,” said an industry expert.

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The insolvency resolution of Ruchi Soya under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) is likely to be completed on December 16, a source told CNBC-TV18. The dues of lenders to Ruchi Soya are also expected to be settled on the same day, the sources added. The National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), in July, cleared Patanajali Ayurveda’s takeover of Ruchi Soya under the IBC, and approved its resolution plan in September, moneycontrol.com reported. Patanjali secured funds from the State Bank of India, Union Bank, Punjab National Bank, Syndicate Bank and Allahabad Bank before.

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Investors have warmed to Pakistan since the government secured a $6bn bailout from the IMF in July, removing any immediate threat of sovereign default, the Financial Times reported. MSCI’s Pakistan equities index is up more than a third from its August lows, compared with a gain of just over 10 per cent for MSCI’s flagship emerging market index. Foreign investors have made a tentative return to the country’s local debt market, buying $1.2bn of local currency government bonds since July after staying away for most of the past two years.

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Promoters of Essar Steel are not yet off the hook despite banks getting large parts of their dues back, The Times of India reported. The Lakshmi Mittal-owned metals group ArcelorMittal last weekend transferred over Rs 39,000 crore to lenders for the steel company he won after a legal battle that lasted over two years. Another Rs 2,500 crore will be repaid from the steel company’s internal accruals.

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The favored funding source of China’s real-estate developers is under scrutiny in one of the country’s largest urban areas, posing a threat to a sector that has stretched creative financing to its limits, the Wall Street Journal reported. On Friday, the city of Xi’an in central China opened a consultation process on instituting an escrow system that would ensure developers hold on to funds worth 1.2 times the cost of building a new property when booking a presale.

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China has made developing its own chip industry a matter of patriotic pride. It helps that “China chip” and “China heart” sound the same in the local language. The strain of this 1.7 trillion yuan ($243 billion) endeavor may be too much for the debt-clogged arteries of its municipal governments, though, according to a Bloomberg News commentary. Over the past decade, Beijing hasn’t hesitated to deploy its fiscal might in pursuit of economic and social objectives.
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Global automakers may face another potentially huge air-bag recall as the U.S. transport regulator evaluates the long-term safety of inflators made by bankrupt supplier Takata Corp., Bloomberg News reported. The manufacturer, now owned by China’s Ningbo Joyson Electronic Corp., faces a Dec. 31 deadline to show the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that as many as 100 million inflators containing a chemical drying agent will be safe long-term.
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