China’s Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) has asked lenders to look over loans made to several groups, including Rossoneri Sports Investment Management Changxing Ltd, in order to gauge the systemic risk of the lenders exposed to those companies.
The CBRC is not investigating any wrongdoing, but rather trying to get a grip on runaway debt. It seeks to investigate the scale and source of the debt financing, as well as the guarantees provided by banks to let their clients borrow overseas.
In addition to Yonghong Li’s group, the CBRC is also looking into Anbang Insurance Group Co., HNA Group Co., Fosun International Ltd., and Dalian Wanda Group.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the probe into these companies’ borrowing is part of a broader government campaign aimed at safeguarding China’s financial system from potential systemic risk ahead of a major Communist Party reshuffle later this year.
Of particular concern to regulators has been a surge in capital outflows, which pressured the Chinese yuan to weaken and shook confidence in the government’s economic management.
Since late last year, authorities have restricted the ability of Chinese companies to invest overseas and erected more hurdles for individuals to take money out.
According to Dealogic, the international bets on big brand names, opaque structures and a dizzying amount of deal-making (accounting for a $387 billion in overseas investment since 2015) represents 16% of Chinese companies’ total.
Not surprisingly, this probe by the regulator has sent shock waves through Chinese markets. In a span of less than 48 hours, some trading has been halted while in other instances some shares have lost more than 10% of their value.
When the banks report back to the regulator, an assessment will be made to determine the risk and decision on whether or not to reduce the bank’s exposure.