China starts probing property executives for possible law violations | Business Standard News

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Chinese authorities said they were investigating at least four current and former top managers, including Xiamen C&D Real Estate Chairman Zhuang Yuekai, who is suspected of “serious” law violations

Photo: Bloomberg

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s corruption clampdown on the nation’s sprawling financial sector has brought down more than 40 officials at state banks and regulators. (Photo: Bloomberg)

China is probing a number of executives at state-owned real estate companies, signaling an expansion of the government’s crackdown on misconduct that has centered on the financial and technology sectors.

In a flurry of announcements this week, authorities said they were investigating at least four current and former top managers, including Xiamen C&D Real Estate Chairman Zhuang Yuekai, who is suspected of “serious” law violations.

President Xi Jinping’s corruption clampdown on the nation’s sprawling financial sector has brought down more than 40 officials at state banks and regulators. The latest probes could signal authorities are widening the campaign to include the beleaguered property sector, which is already grappling with a crippling slowdown that’s hurting the world’s second-largest economy.

Also Read: Chinese banks inflating loan numbers amid struggle to meet govt demands

The investigations may “deal a further blow to investor confidence and cause market worries about the internal governance of some state-owned enterprises,” said Ting Meng, senior credit strategist at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. Still, the impact on the companies may be limited given that decisions at SOEs tend to be made by more than one individual, she added.

Other real estate executives being probed:

  • Shi Zhen, chairman of state-owned C&D Urban Services, on suspicion of unspecified violations
  • Liu Hui, deputy general manager of state-owned Shenzhen Talents Housing Group, for “serious” law violations
  • China Resources Land Ltd.’s former Chairman Tang Yong, for severe disciplinary and legal violations.
  • Real estate stocks fell as a fresh round of profit warnings added to the gloom. A Bloomberg gauge of 33 mostly private Chinese developers plunged the most in almost six weeks, dropping 3.7% as of 11:45 a.m.

Subsidiaries of Xiamen C&D Corp., where both Zhuang and Shi serve as executives, were hard hit. C&D International Investment Group Ltd., where Zhuang is chairman, tumbled as much as 30% in Hong Kong, and its services unit plunged a record 32%. A logistics service unit on the mainland declined as much as 9.9%.

China has been investigating a string of high-profile officials and executives in the run-up to a sensitive Communist Party congress where key leadership positions will be decided. Xi, who’s expected to secure a third term in the shake-up, has consolidated power over the past decade in part due to his corruption campaign.

Investing in China is becoming increasingly precarious after Xi clamped down on broad parts of the private sector, including the real estate industry and big technology companies. Several China Construction Bank Corp. executives have come under scrutiny this year for their links to property developers.

The country recently begun a series of investigations into key figures responsible for shaping chip policy and investment. In July it announced investigations into top executives at a state-backed semiconductor fund as well as Minister of Industry and Information Technology Xiao Yaqing.

Meanwhile, the property sector’s more than year-long sales slump is hammering earnings. Powerlong Real Estate Holdings Ltd. became the latest developer to issue a profit warning on Wednesday, saying core profit may have dropped as much as 37% in the first half from a year earlier.

Logan Group Co. shares plunged as much as 58% in Hong Kong after resuming trading following a three-month suspension for failing to report audited earnings on time. The developer announced those results late Tuesday, saying core profit fell 20% last year.

Shenzhen-based Logan is among a growing number of Chinese real estate firms that are struggling to meet debt payments. The company is formulating a plan to deal with its obligations.

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