New regulations aimed at slowing the yuan’s decline create confusion for multinationals.
French construction-materials company Cie. de Saint-Gobain SA, is finding it harder to take its money out of China.
“The process of authorization is going to become longer now. The procedures will be controlled more strictly.”
— Javier Gimeno, head of Saint-Gobain’s China operations
The conglomerate—like all multinationals operating there—faces new delays in recent weeks as Chinese regulators impose tougher restrictions on the movement of capital out of the country to slow the yuan’s decline.
“The process of authorization is going to become longer now,” said Javier Gimeno, who heads Saint-Gobain’s China operations. “The procedures will be controlled more strictly.”
Nearly 7% of Saint-Gobain’s world-wide group sales come from Asia and Oceania, a large part of that from China. The new rules are adding confusion and anxiety to a process that had been getting much easier over the past year, he said. The shift could cause some multinationals to rethink future investments in a country where once-sure payoffs are suddenly facing an uncertain return, analysts say.
As of late November, firms that want to exchange yuan into dollars in China now need approval for any transaction greater than $5 million. They also face tighter limits on amounts they can transfer in and out of bank accounts in China to affiliates in other countries, in a practice known as “cross-border sweeping.”
“We hear a lot questions from corporates about whether they will be able to repatriate their money in the future,” said Alexander Tietze, managing director at Acon Actienbank AG, a German bank that advises companies on Chinese investments. He expects foreign investments in China to slow, and cautioned that foreign takeovers or plans for new joint ventures could fail because of the controls.
With the Chinese economy struggling, multinationals have fewer opportunities to reinvest there, which makes it more difficult for them to do much with money trapped in China.
“A majority of clients are currently consolidating and restructuring their China business,” said Bernd-Uwe Stucken, a lawyer with Pinsent Masons LLP in Shanghai. Some clients are closing down their business, with new investments being the exception to the rule, Mr. Stucken said.
Adding to the confusion: it is unclear where the limits are, because regulators haven’t published official rule changes, but instead have given only informal guidance to banks, according to Daniel Blumen, partner at Treasury Alliance Group, a consulting firm.
Loose Money Party Peaks, Hangover Anticipation Looms.
“Central banks get most of the credit for the calm and upward-moving market over the summer, but I don’t think we can depend on that going forward.”
— Jeff Layman, chief investment officer at BKD Wealth Advisors
Markets in Europe and Asia retreated Monday amid signs the world’s central banks will be less accommodative than previously expected.
“Bourses in Asia closed with steep declines, with shares in Hong Kong off around 3.3%, Shanghai down 1.9%, Japan down 1.7% and Australia down 2.2%.”
“Central banks get most of the credit for the calm and upward-moving market over the summer, but I don’t think we can depend on that going forward,” said Jeff Layman, chief investment officer at BKD Wealth Advisors.
The Stoxx Europe 600 shed 1.9% early in the session, while futures pointed to a 0.6% opening loss for the S&P 500 after its biggest daily drop since the U.K.’s EU referendum.
Bourses in Asia closed with steep declines, with shares in Hong Kong off around 3.3%, Shanghai down 1.9%, Japan down 1.7% and Australia down 2.2%.
Stocks and long-dated government bonds sold off on Friday after comments from Federal Reserve Bank of Boston President Eric Rosengren heightened expectations for an interest rate rise later this year. Read the rest of this entry »
The Finance Ministry plans to increase the number of ¥10,000 bills in circulation, amid signs that more people are hoarding cash.
It will print 1.23 billion such notes in fiscal 2016, 180 million more than a year earlier. The number of ¥10,000 bills issued annually leveled off at around 1.05 billion in the fiscal years from 2011 to 2015.
Some financial market sources believe it is because more people are keeping their money at home rather than in banks, because interest rates on deposits have fallen to almost zero after the Bank of Japan introduced a negative interest rate in February.
The total amount of cash stashed at home is estimated to have surged by nearly ¥5 trillion to some ¥40 trillion in the past year, Hideo Kumano, chief economist at Dai-ichi Life Research Institute, said. Read the rest of this entry »