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China steps up consolidation of smaller banks caught in slowdown

Rust belt and rural lenders left in worse shape by pandemic

A Baoshang Bank ad in Beijing: The lender's de facto nationalization last year was followed by rescues of other regional banks.   © Reuters

BEIJING -- China will press for mergers and acquisitions among smaller lenders put at risk by the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

"It's clear that the coronavirus is dealing a blow to small and midsize banks," Cao Yu, vice chairman of the China Banking Regulatory Commission, said at a news conference Wednesday.

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