(Bloomberg) — The Trump administration’s potential restrictions on two Chinese payments giants would reverberate far beyond politics, potentially affecting multibillion-dollar deals, shaking up international commerce and even shaping the evolution of the global financial system.

a person sitting on display in a store: An advertisement for Tencent Holdings Ltd.'s WeChat Pay digital payment service is displayed outside a restaurant in Hong Kong, China, on Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020. WeChat Pay and Ant Group's Alipay account for the majority of the mobile payments transactions in China.

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An advertisement for Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s WeChat Pay digital payment service is displayed outside a restaurant in Hong Kong, China, on Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020. WeChat Pay and Ant Group’s Alipay account for the majority of the mobile payments transactions in China.

U.S. officials have stepped up behind-the-scenes talks in recent weeks about possibly restricting the expansion of Ant Group’s Alipay and Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s WeChat Pay over concerns that the digital payment platforms threaten national security, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday.


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If the administration proceeds, the most immediate hit would be to Ant Group’s plan for a stock listing in Shanghai and Hong Kong, a deal that could rank as the world’s largest initial public offering. Some international companies have been working with the payment apps and could see those strategies hurt or derailed. And while restrictions may ultimately head off potent competitors to U.S. and European banks, it could also — depending on how China responds — thwart their own planned expansion into the world’s second-largest economy.

Here’s a breakdown of the many companies with business at stake as President Donald Trump’s administration weighs its decision:

Ant’s IPO

Investors have been eager to pile into Jack Ma’s Ant Group. After gauging early interest, the company is seeking to raise at least $35 billion in its IPO, people familiar with the matter have said, potentially topping Saudi Aramco’s record $29 billion sale. Ant lifted the target based on an increased valuation of about $250 billion, which would exceed the market

A pedestrian crosses a road in front of residential buildings in Beijing, China.

Qilai Shen | Bloomberg | Getty Images

SINGAPORE — Rising debt of Chinese property developers are in the spotlight again, as liquidity issues at top developer China Evergrande trigger investor concerns.

China’s property prices rebounded quickly as the economy reopened after the worst of the pandemic passed. Still, authorities are expected to officially rein in on borrowing costs of developers — outlining rules that cap the ratios of their debt in relation to their cash flows, assets and capital levels.

A leaked document last month regarding the cash flow of Evergrande, China’s second-largest developer by sales, has further highlighted concerns of the liquidity flows of Chinese developers.

Analysts warn it’s also raised the pressure on the developers’ ability to repay their debts in the bond markets going into 2021.

China’s property developers are among the biggest junk bond issuers in Asia, with a total of $46.23 billion being issued last year — double that of 2018, according to Refinitiv data. Junk bonds are non-investment grade debt securities that carry a high default risk, and therefore, usually come with higher interest rates to compensate for that risk.

Evergrande’s liquidity concerns

The leaked document suggested that China Evergrande had sought help from the government due to a supposed cash crunch. The company has since denied the allegations in the document.

Nevertheless, ratings giant S&P Global Ratings downgraded China Evergrande to “negative” from “stable,” explaining that its liquidity was weakening.

“We revised the outlooks to negative because Evergrande’s short-term debt has continued to surge, partly due to its active acquisition of property projects. We had previously expected the company to address its short-term debt, especially given the tough economic climate,” the ratings agency said.

The incident poses an event risk

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Chinese commercial banks have made rare cuts to their foreign currency deposit rates in recent weeks to reflect the easier monetary policies of overseas economies grappling with the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

The move is expected to encourage Chinese companies and households to covert their often large foreign currency holdings to yuan and dampen speculative purchases of foreign currencies, analysts said.

Bank of Communications <601328.SS> <3328.HK> said on Saturday that it was lowering interest rates on deposits below $3 million in certain foreign currencies.

The one-year dollar deposit rate at all of China’s “big five” state banks now stands at 0.35% which compares with levels of 0.75-0.8% previously, according to data from the lenders.

In contrast, the benchmark one-year yuan deposit rate is much higher at 1.5%. Long betting that the yuan would eventually depreciate, Chinese companies and households have heavily invested in foreign currency assets.

Chinese foreign currency deposits stood at $819.5 billion as of end-August, up $25.8 billion from the previous month, and marking the highest level since March 2018. But as overseas economies embark on aggressive monetary easing, cutting rates to zero or negative, foreign capital has flowed into China – the only major economy expected to show growth this year. As a result, the yuan

has appreciated more than 5% against the dollar since late May.

(Reporting by Han Xiao, Winni Zhou and Andrew Galbraith; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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