Hong Kong banks offer liquidity support amid coronavirus outbreak

Pedro Gonçalves
clock
Hong Kong banks offer liquidity support amid coronavirus outbreak

Standard Chartered will allow mortgage borrowers and small businesses facing financial burdens to pay only interest on their loans for up to a year, as it became the latest lender to outline its plans to offer relief to Hong Kong companies hurt by the coronavirus outbreak.

The move follows an announcement by HSBC that it would provide more than HK$30bn ($3.9bn) in liquidity relief for businesses. This includes HK$10m in cash flow support for its trade finance customers and a moratorium on principal payments for commercial loans secured against property.

StanChart is offering a six-month mortgage principal payment holiday, additional coverage for life insurance plans, a three-month waiver of credit card late charge fees, as well as a package of measures designed to help small and medium-sized enterprises.

As banks play an important role in Hong Kong, Standard Chartered is launching a series of relief measures to help ease the financial burden on our clients during these difficult times"

"Hong Kong is facing unprecedented challenges amid the outbreak of the novel coronavirus and a slowing economy," the bank said in a statement. "As banks play an important role in Hong Kong, Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong) Limited is launching a series of relief measures to help ease the financial burden on our clients during these difficult times."

Among the measures announced by to help SMEs are a moratorium of loan payments of up to 12 months, a 50% subsidy for all tenors on guarantee fee under the SME Financing Guarantee Scheme, and other fee waivers.

HSBC on Sunday announced that it would extend an additional HK$30 billion ($3.9bn) of liquidity relief to help struggling coronavirus-hit businesses, and is evaluating initiatives that will benefit personal customers.

It is offering cash flow support for trade finance customers, with up to HK$10 million quick cash facility; repayment flexibility with an extension of import trade loan payment period for 30 days; and extension of the principal moratorium to taxi and public light bus loans and property-secured commercial loans.

HSBC's Hong Kong chief executive Diana Cesar said the circumstances were "unprecedented" and the bank would introduce further measures for personal customers. 

The blow to Hong Kong's economy from the coronavirus follows the devastation wrought by political protests last year on the Asian financial hub's retail and tourism industries. 

Since last week, Bank of China (Hong Kong), Bank of East Asia. China Citic Bank International, HSBC and its subsidiary Hang Seng Bank, ICBC Asia, the Hong Kong arm of China's biggest lender Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and Standard Chartered have all said they would undertake measures to help consumers and small business owners.

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority, the city's de facto central bank, has encouraged other banks to enact similar measures.

 

Subscribe to International Investment's free, twice-daily, newsletter