【英语财经】中国金属融资调查引发新加坡银行界担忧 China metal financing fears spread to Singapore

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2014-6-12 06:45

小艾摘要: An investigation into metals financing in a northeastern Chinese port city has cast a chill in Singapore, where a surge of business financing imports into China has bankers increasingly worried.A Chin ...
China metal financing fears spread to Singapore
An investigation into metals financing in a northeastern Chinese port city has cast a chill in Singapore, where a surge of business financing imports into China has bankers increasingly worried.

A Chinese company’s alleged use of metal as collateral to get loans from several international banks shows that commodity-backed loans are not as safe as bankers assumed.

More and more of these loans originate from Singapore as international banks move their China business out of Hong Kong, leading Chinese firms to set up shop in the tropical entrepot to tap offshore dollar liquidity.

Last week, Qingdao Port said police had opened an investigation into alumina and copper held at Dagang Port, one of several ports under its management. Traders rushed to move metal out of Qingdao.

Chen Jihong, founder of aluminium producer Dezheng Resources, was detained by Chinese authorities several weeks ago in connection with a different investigation in another province, people familiar with the matter in Qingdao said. His disappearance caused banks to check their exposure to his firm, and suspect that the same metal had been pledged multiple times by one or more of its subsidiaries.

The case highlights what bankers do not know about their clients in China.

“Usually if there was a government crackdown on import financing the internal risk managers weren’t that worried because they thought the loans were safe. The possibility of a fraud has risk managers a lot more concerned,” said metals analyst Sijin Cheng, of Barclays in Singapore.

Foreign banks are confident lending money at international interest rates to Chinese commodity importers if they have secured the loans. International traders often help, splitting the difference between the cost of the foreign currency loan and the higher interest rates in China.

The investigation has raised alarms over import financing of iron ore, also increasingly conducted out of Singapore.

Corporate filings for Dezheng Resources’ trading subsidiary – which operated in Singapore and Hong Kong under the name Zhong Jun Resources – record obligations to at least nine international banks. It is unclear how many of those obligations have been discharged already.

Mr Chen of Dezheng is now a Singapore citizen. Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it was giving consular assistance to Mr Chen’s family.

His brother Chen Jilong is also listed as a director of Zhong Jun, but told the FT he did not know anything about the company. He said he last spoke with his brother a month ago, and could no longer reach him on his mobile phone.

Borrowing against imported commodities allows Chinese firms to get cash at lower rates, which they can then use for operations or to lend on at higher interest rates to more desperate borrowers. China has tried multiple times to restrict access to import financing, in an ongoing effort to starve credit to sectors struggling with overcapacity.

The risks of the shadow banking sector is that no one knows who the ultimate borrower is, how indebted they are or how many people they owe. To date, foreign banks engaged in trade financing have been mostly insulated from that risk, because in the case of a default they could reclaim the collateral.

A liquidity squeeze in China last June was taken as a warning by some banks to reassess exposure to some riskier Chinese clients.

“The market got the message that the overall direction should be deleveraging and reassessing risks. Banks already made this kind of preparation, so I don’t think this incident will cause banks to suddenly halt trade finance,” said a metals trader at a foreign bank in Shanghai.

Additional reporting by Owen Guo in Beijing

中国东部一个港口城市对金属融资展开的调查,给新加坡带来一股寒意;其近来为中国进口融资的业务量大增,令新加坡银行家越来越担心。

一家中国公司涉嫌用金属重复质押,从多家国际银行骗取贷款,这表明,以大宗商品为担保物的贷款并不像银行家们假定的那么安全。

越来越多的此类贷款来自新加坡,原因是国际银行纷纷将中国业务迁出香港,导致中国企业在新加坡设点,以利用这个热带小国的离岸美元流动性。

青岛港集团(Qingdao Port)上周表示,警方已对大港(该集团管理的数个港区之一)储存的氧化铝和铜展开调查。近日交易商们竞相把金属运出青岛。

熟悉青岛调查的人士表示,铝生产商德正资源(Dezheng Resources)创始人陈基鸿数周前在另一个省的另一宗调查中被中国当局拘留。他的失踪促使各银行检查自己对德正公司的敞口,结果怀疑相同的金属曾被德正的一家或多家子公司重复质押。

此案暴露银行家们不了解中国客户的地方。

“通常,如果政府在进口融资领域展开打击行动,内部风险经理们并不担心,因为他们认为贷款是安全的。存在欺诈的可能性大大加剧了风险经理们的担忧,”巴克莱(Barclays)驻新加坡的金属分析师程似锦表示。

外资银行在贷款得到担保的情况下,放心地按照国际利率向中国的大宗商品进口商放贷。国际交易商经常给予协助,分享外币贷款成本和中国较高利率之间的差价。

上述调查拉响了铁矿石进口融资的警钟,这块业务也越来越多地在新加坡开展。

德正资源的交易子公司——中骏资源(Zhong Jun Resources)在新加坡和香港开展经营。该公司的申报文件显示,其对至少9家国际银行有偿债义务。尚不清楚这其中有多少义务已得到履行。

德正公司的陈基鸿现为新加坡公民。新加坡外交部称,正向陈基鸿的家人提供领事协助。

他的兄弟陈基隆也被列为中骏的一名董事,但他告诉英国《金融时报》,他不知道该公司的任何情况。他说,他最后一次与陈基鸿交谈是在一个月前,现在已无法通过手机联系到他。

以进口的大宗商品为担保品,使中国企业以较低利率获得资金,他们可将这些资金投入业务,或以更高利率贷给更加绝望的借款人。中国官方曾多次试图限制企业获得进口融资,以求掐断产能过剩行业的信贷。

影子银行部门的风险在于,没有人知道谁是最终借款人,他们的欠债情况有多严重,或者他们有多少债主。迄今从事贸易融资的外资银行大多与这个风险隔离,因为在发生违约的情况下,他们可以收回担保品。

去年6月中国出现的“钱荒”被一些银行看作是一个警告,要求他们重新评估各自对某些风险较高的中国客户的敞口。

“市场得到的信息是,大方向应该是去杠杆化和重新评估风险。银行已做了这样的准备,所以我不认为这一事件会导致银行突然停止贸易融资,”上海一家外资银行的一名金属交易员表示。

Owen Guo北京补充报道

译者/和风

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