Muddy Waters’ Carson Block Says China Banks’ Bad Loans Spread Beyond Government Debt

Block Says China Banks’ Bad Loans Spread Beyond Government Debt

Carson Block, the short seller who runs Muddy Waters LLC, said China’s bad-loan problem is more widespread than just local government debt and includes public and private sector borrowing.

Non-performing loan “figures greatly understate the potential scope of the problem of poor-quality loans,” Block said in an e-mail. “We believe that the PRC banking system will be hit hard by the unwind, and that the government will be forced to recapitalize a number of the banks.”

Chinese banks are grappling with rising defaults and slowing profit growth as regulators ease controls over loan pricing and deposits to spur competition. The country’s soured debt, which has risen for six straight quarters, in part prompted Block to bet against the bonds of Standard Chartered Plc, the U.K. bank that earns most of its profit in Asia.

Bad debt in China climbed to 526.5 billion yuan ($86 billion) in the three months through March, marking the longest deterioration streak in at least nine years, according to regulatory data released this month.China’s largest lenders are state-owned and that makes shorting the country’s banks “somewhat difficult,” Block said in the e-mailed reply to queries.

The government owns stakes in the nation’s biggest banks including China Construction Bank Corp. (939) through the Ministry of Finance as well as Central Huijin Investment Ltd., a unit of sovereign wealth fund China Investment Corp.

Block said May 10 he’s betting against Standard Chartered’s debt because of deteriorating loan quality. The London-based bank’s lack of state support and an emerging-market loan book that’s “highly exposed to significant negative developments in China” were reasons Block shorted the lender, he said in the e-mail.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Allen Wan in Shanghai at awan3@bloomberg.net

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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