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Japan banks offer swift loans to virus-hit businesses in China

SMBC, Mizuho and MUFG promise extensions, quick screening and low rates

Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. is offering special loans to Chinese manufacturers and distributors of masks and other medical supplies.   © Reuters

SHANGHAI -- Japan's three largest banks will provide lending to help Chinese businesses affected by the coronavirus, aiming to swiftly bring necessary funding to blunt the impact of the epidemic.

Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. is offering credit lines of up to 5 billion yuan ($717 million) to affected companies, as well as manufacturers and distributors of masks and other medical supplies. Interest rates will be lower than usual, and the lines may be increased depending on funding needs.

The unit of Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group also will aid borrowers struggling to repay existing loans, offering rescheduling and extensions. In addition, SMBC donated 200,000 masks stored at its branches around Japan.

Mizuho Bank will offer custom loans to companies in Hubei Province, whose capital, Wuhan, is the epicenter of the outbreak. The member of Mizuho Financial Group will determine credit limits and terms individually based on the borrower's circumstances.

Funds will be available within two weeks if the applicant already has the required documents. The loans are available through the end of July.

MUFG Bank looks to streamline screening so that current customers can obtain fresh loans in one week, down from the usual two to four weeks. The Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group unit intends to reduce or waive fees as well.

These moves by Japan's megabanks come after Chinese banking authorities in late January warned financial institutions against denying new loans to businesses affected by the outbreak or collecting existing loans early from them.

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