Japan

A Japanese real estate developer that pulled off a $1.9 billion employee buyout with U.S. private equity firm Lone Star is under pressure from a leading creditor to consider filing for bankruptcy protection, the Financial Times reported. Unizo, which owned a portfolio including hotels and central Tokyo office space, was at the centre of a 2019 bidding war between SoftBank-backed Fortress and other potential buyers including Blackstone and local property companies, having attracted high-profile interest in a market where real estate assets are only occasionally sold as a bloc.

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Japan’s banking regulator is surveying regional lenders on how local businesses are coping with new restrictions to contain COVID-19, as it seeks to forestall a spike in bankruptcies, Reuters reported. The survey by the Financial Services Agency (FSA) follows the government’s roll-out of state-of-emergency measures last month that could destabilise regional economies. While policymakers stress Japan’s banking system remains stable as a whole, the move underscores their concern over the prolonged and widening damage the coronavirus pandemic is inflicting on companies and banks.

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Japan’s Topix stock benchmark climbed to a three-decade high on Monday, drawing even more attention to its future amid plans for a sweeping market reform, Bloomberg News reported. The Tokyo Stock Exchange is set to undergo a once-in-a-generation shakeup in little over a year. Japan Exchange Group Inc., which owns the bourse, plans to cut the number of market segments, apply new listing criteria and turn five confusing, overlapping divisions into three simpler sections: blue-chips, start-ups, and the rest.

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Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga looks set to extend a state of emergency for major metropolitan areas that will inflict more pain on the economy, as he tries to stem the latest wave of Covid-19 cases and reverse a fall in public support, Bloomberg News reported. The emergency covering 11 areas including Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya has helped halt a rapid acceleration of virus cases threatening the developed world’s oldest population. While infection numbers have started to drop under the guidelines, Suga’s government has said the number of cases remains worryingly high.

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Japan Airlines Co. expects a worse loss this fiscal year than previously forecast as the coronavirus wreaks havoc on international demand for travel, Bloomberg News reported. The nation’s flag carrier is now forecasting a net loss of 300 billion yen ($2.9 billion) for the 12 months ending March 31 and sales of 460 billion yen, according to an exchange filing on Monday. For the third quarter, JAL reported a net loss of 51.5 billion yen, wider than the 36.9 billion yen estimated by analysts. Sales for the period were 161.8 billion yen versus the 170 billion yen forecast.

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A tug of war has emerged in Japan between authorities calling on restaurants to close early to stem the spread of the coronavirus, and business owners who say such requests are pushing them past their limits, Bloomberg News reported. With Japan’s virus strategy dependent on voluntary cooperation, the struggle shows the limits of its social compliance model as the pandemic drags on into a second year.

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Creditors seeking to regain Bitcoin lost on the Japanese exchange Mt. Gox in 2014 have a chance to get their digital assets back before legal claims are settled, Bloomberg News reported. CoinLab Inc. said an agreement with Nobuaki Kobayashi, the trustee to the Mt. Gox bankruptcy, and MGIFLP, a unit of Fortress Investment Group LLC, will allow creditors to consider an offer of as much as 90% of the remaining Bitcoin tied up in the bankruptcy.
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The number of bankruptcies in the hotel industry in Japan in 2020 jumped 57.3% from the previous year to 118, according to Tokyo Shoko Research Ltd, the Japan Times reported. The annual total surpassed 100 for the first time since 2013, mainly due to the impact of the novel coronavirus epidemic, the credit research firm said Tuesday. Liabilities left by collapsed hotel operators totaled ¥58 billion, with failures of midsize or larger firms increasing.

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New rules from a major Japanese financial industry group to encourage transparency in the corporate bond market took effect this year, with the first debt sales under the guidelines set for Friday, Bloomberg News reported. Japan Securities Dealers Association--which comprises about 500 securities firms, banks, and other financial institutions--put the rules into force on Jan. 1. They require banks underwriting bond deals of over 10 billion yen ($97 million) to disclose to issuers the names and order sizes of major buyers and any investors who bought 1 billion yen or more.

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The authorities in Tokyo requested on Monday that restaurants and bars close by 8 p.m. to prevent further spread of the coronavirus, an announcement that came after the Japanese prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, said that the central government would consider declaring a state of emergency in the capital and in three surrounding prefectures for the first time since April, the New York Times reported.

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