Three Chinese Banks Report US$297 Million Lehman Debt

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Sept. 18 – As the U.S. financial crisis unravels, China’s three top commercial banks have reported their levels of exposure through bonds issued by investment bank Lehman Brothers.

The fourth largest investment bank in the United States, Lehman Brothers, had filed for bankruptcy on Monday when efforts to find a buyer failed last Sunday.

In a statement, China Merchants Bank said it holds US$70 million worth of Lehman Brothers bonds: US$60 million of which is senior debt and US$10 million in subordinated debt.

It admitted that it has not made special provisions for the book losses on the Lehman bonds and will evaluate their potential risks and disclose further details at a later date.

On the other hand, the country’s largest State-controlled commercial bank by assets Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), holds $151 million in bonds connected to Lehman Brothers, reports Xinhua.

Bank of China (BOC) also holds US$75.62 million in bonds issued by the U.S. investment bank. It had also loaned US$53.2 million to Lehman Brothers and its subsidiaries.

Lehman Brothers listed BOC as an unsecured creditor in documents filed by at the United States Bankruptcy Court of the Southern District of New York.

Following the collapse of Lehman, the U.S Federal Reserved agreed on Tuesday to issue a bank loan worth US$85 billion to save the insurance giant American International Group from filing for bankruptcy.

Jitters on the far-reaching effects of the financial crisis has led to a decrease of Chinese commercial banks’ shares in the past two days.

On Wednesday, China Merchants Bank shares sunk by 9.96 percent to RMB14.47 yuan while BOC shares decreased by 14.8 percent since Friday to close at RMB2.97.

BOC Hong Kong-listed H shares also reported a drop by 4.6 percent on Wednesday to finish at HK$2.9.

During the same period, China Construction Bank shares decreased by 10.09 percent to close at RMB3.83 yuan, while H shares dropped by 8.15 percent to HK$4.73.