Big Chinese banks and private companies targeted by the banking regulator’s move to limit debt-fuelled overseas acquisitions sought to calm the waters on Friday by reassuring investors they were conducting business as usual.
The regulator has ordered banks to assess their exposure to some of the nation’s most acquisitive companies out of concerns that reliance on high-interest financial products to buy foreign groups could pose a systemic risk at home, officials and bankers revealed on Thursday.
That caused a sell-off in the stocks and bonds of conglomerates HNA Group, Wanda Group and Fosun on Thursday. Anbang, the insurance company whose overseas purchases have generated the most attention, is not listed but has also been targeted by regulators.
Large state banks sought to limit the impact on Friday, declaring they had no intention of cutting off credit to the companies involved.
ICBC said in a statement that it was “assessing the loans of those companies who have overseas business to consolidate financial statements. That does not indicate any reduction in credit to those companies”.
It also said it had not sold off the companies’ bonds. China Construction Bank also denied rumours on Thursday that it had sold off bonds.
The four prominent groups are not the only private companies that have relied on high-interest financing to raise money for purchases within China or overseas. But they are each identified with different political factions, and tackling them together gives Beijing’s regulators political credibility in their latest attempt to contain the risks posed by China’s high-interest shadow finance system.
In statements to the stock exchange, Fosun’s listed arms said their operations were normal.
Wanda Group on Friday threatened to sue a microblogger who attributed the sell-off in the bonds of its Wanda Film subsidiary on Thursday to “political risks”.
“Rumours and scandalous speech have brought extremely severe consequences, causing Wanda Film to lose more than Rm6bn [$880m] in market value and massive losses to shareholders,” Wanda said in a statement issued through WeChat, the Chinese social media platform. The original po