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China banks under pressure as local debt crisis mounts

Large Chinese banks are under pressure from Beijing to sacrifice their margins and extend new loans to cash-tight local government financing vehicles (LGFVs).

Bloomberg reported that state banks have in recent months been offering LGFVs loans with a maturity period of 25 years, instead of the normal 10 years. Some of the loans came with waivers on any interest or principal payments for the first four years, though the interest will be accrued for later payment, unnamed sources were quoted as saying in the report.

Since the Bloomberg report appeared on July 4, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) and the Agricultural Bank of China’s shares have fallen by 15.1% and 15.6% respectively. The Bank of China’s stocks have lost 12.7% while the China Construction Bank has declined 14% over the same period.

Some analysts surmised that the central government is dumping local debt problems on the big banks by making them lend more to developers and expand their loan books generally.

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