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China's embattled Huarong warns of annual loss of US$16 billion, reveals state investment

China's embattled Huarong warns of annual loss of US$16 billion, reveals state investment

FILE PHOTO: The logo of China Huarong Asset Management Co is seen at its office in Beijing, China, April 16, 2021. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

BEIJING: China Huarong Asset Management Co warned investors a net loss of 102.9 billion yuan (US$15.88 billion) in 2020 on Wednesday (Aug 18), after delaying its annual report for nearly five months amid restructuring uncertainties.

Huarong, one of the four state distressed debt managers and whose former chairman became subject of one of the country's highest profile corruption cases, also said it has signed an investment agreement with a state consortium led by the CITIC Group Corp.

The agreement would "replenish company's capital ... consolidate company's foundation for sustainable operations", it said.

The Beijing-based company, which counts China's finance ministry as its biggest shareholder, did not elaborate on the amount of the strategic investment, and said the deal was still subject to regulatory approvals.

The corruption case resulted in the execution of former chairman Lai Xiaomin in January after a probe into the period when he expanded Huarong into a financial conglomerate.

He was convicted of receiving or seeking bribes totalling 1.788 billion yuan from 2008 to 2018, when he was also a senior banking regulator.

The profit warning mostly reflected a large change in provision for credit impairment, Huarong said in a filing to Hong Kong stock exchange, citing assessments on existing risk assets, and risks of some subsidiaries.

"As the trial against former Chairman Lai Xiaomin for bribery, embezzlement and bigamy commenced ... the group constantly cleared and disposed the risk assets caused by his aggressive operation and disorderly expansion during his tenure," Huarong said, adding that the COVID-19 pandemic also deteriorated its asset quality at "a quicker speed" last year.

Despite the profit warning, the company said its liquidity was ample and could repay the outstanding offshore debts in time.

The company missed the Mar 31 deadline for filing its 2020 earnings, sparking a rout in its US dollar-denominated bonds that spread to other issuers amid concern that a default could see foreign investors losing out.

Amid a push to sell non-core assets as part of its business revamp, the company has announced plans to sell stakes in a distressed asset exchange unit, a consumer finance unit, and restructure its trust subsidiary.

Huarong posted 209.9 million yuan of profit for the six months ended Jun 30, 2020, a profit drop of 91.7 per cent compared with the same period of 2019.

Source: Reuters

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