China’s debt-to-equity swap program appears to be making headway, but there are concerns that some arrangements seem more like loans piled on loans and offer debt relief that is more cosmetic than real. At a recent meeting, Shang Fulin, chairman of the China Banking Regulatory Commission, said banks must ensure that the sales of debt in the swap program are real, in the sense that the bank is no longer exposed to the risk. In less than three months, the big four banks together have reached agreements with 27 enterprises to resolve debts worth more than 330 billion yuan. Theoretically, investors providing the funds to pay off the debts would become the firms’ shareholders. But according to Caixin, the banks have not published details of their swap agreements, so it is unclear how those investments were made and whether all those investors were becoming shareholders.
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