June 23, 2017 / 10:22 AM / a month ago

China's ICBC says checks of loans to big acquirers are routine

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BEIJING (Reuters) - Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) said on Friday its checks of loans to companies that made overseas acquisitions is routine, following reports that the regulator had ordered lenders to assess credit extended to a handful of highly acquisitive firms.

The assessment does not indicate the bank will reduce credit lines to those firms, ICBC added in a statement. ICBC also said it was not "dumping" bonds issued by companies whose loans it was assessing, an apparent response to market rumours on Thursday.

Reuters and other media outlets reported on Thursday that China's banking regulator had ordered a group of lenders to assess their exposure to offshore acquisitions by a handful of dealmakers that had been on an overseas buying spree.

The firms include HNA Group, Dalian Wanda Group Co, Anbang Insurance Group, Fosun International Ltd and Zhejiang Luosen, which was behind the purchase of A.C. Milan football club earlier this year, a source told Reuters.

The China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) made the request as it moves to control potential systemic risk, including problems posed by domestic companies acquiring more global assets. China launched a clampdown on overseas direct investment last year.

The corporate bonds listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange of Dalian Wanda Commercial Properties, a real estate arm of Wanda Group, dropped 1.8 percent on Thursday, but recovered on Friday with a 0.878 percent gain.

Shares in Wanda Film Holding Co, a subsidiary of Wanda Group, gained 3.6 percent on Friday after dropping 10 percent on Thursday before they were suspended.

Earlier on Friday, Wanda Film announced that its controlling shareholder planned to increase its stake in the firm by up to 1 billion yuan within three months.

Shares in Fosun International and Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical, which also slumped on the media reports on Thursday, rebounded on Friday, after Fosun issued a statement saying the firm is operating normally.

The blue-chip CSI300 index edged up 0.91 percent.

Reporting by Shu Zhang and Tony Munroe; Editing by Stephen Coates and Christopher Cushing

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