China’s investment company shares fall after $6.6bn bailout

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Shares in scandal-hit China Huarong Asset Management have slumped by more than 50% after a state-backed bailout of almost $6.6bn (£4.9bn).

The Hong Kong Stock Exchange suspended shares of the company for nine months.

Huarong set a new record for Asian stock market losses in August 2013 when it lost close to $16bn.

After being found guilty for corruption, Lai Xiaomin, the firm’s ex-chairman was sentenced to death.

Huarong is one of the four managers for state-owned distressed debts.

After the deadline passed at March 31 to submit its 2020 earnings, the company made the decision.

The resulting turmoil in Huarong’s US Dollar-denominated bond market spread quickly to bonds from other Chinese companies.

Huarong is China’s biggest shareholder and announced in August that it had a profit margin of $24.5m in the first half 2021 and almost $16bn of losses for 2020.

In November, the company announced that it was receiving a $6.59bn cash injection from state-backed investors in its rescue plan.

Huarong, majority owned by China’s Ministry of Finance is created to pay off bad debts from China’s biggest state-owned bank.

The asset manager expanded well beyond the original scope of Mr Lai’s tenure as Chairman.

Investors saw the crisis that enveloped the company as an indicator of how the Chinese government would approach corporate failures.

Mr Lai was arrested in 2018 on charges of taking 1.8bn yuan (£210m, $280m) in bribes over a 10-year period.

Human Rights Watch, which was critical of the death sentence, stated that China was taking “a big step backwards.”

It was one the toughest sentences that President Xi Jinping’s anticorruption drive had wrought.

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