Unilever, 3M eligible for China loans to ease virus crisis

SHANGHAI/BEIJING: Shanghai has compiled a list of firms, including local units of multi-nationals Unilever PLC and 3M Co, as eligible for millions of dollars in subsidised loans to ease any blow from the coronavirus outbreak, according to bankers and documents.
In an economically bruising three weeks, China has cordoned off cities and suspended transport links in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.
Some lenders in the city have each received a list of firms compiled by the Shanghai branches of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) and the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), according to seven bankers, each at a different lender.
“Every bank in Shanghai is rushing to lend to the companies on its list, to earn political goodwill,” said one banker who had seen a list with 194 firms, including restaurant operators and property developers.
Other lenders have received shorter versions of the list, bankers said.
Companies have the option to nominate themselves to be added to the overall list. Each lender then determines independently whether to approach a company on its list and offer finance, according to the bankers.
Companies producing medical supplies and which are “backbone enterprises” providing daily necessities are eligible for the special loans, according to a notice on the Shanghai MIIT’s website.
China is trying to deal with a nationwide shortage of medical supplies, from face masks to protective suits, while hospitals in central Hubei province — the epicentre of the outbreak — struggle to manage hundreds of new cases a day.
One bank’s list of firms reviewed by Reuters included 3M Medical Devices and Materials Manufacturing (Shanghai) Co Ltd, Unilever (China) Co Ltd as well as medical supply firms Shanghai Kindly Enterprise Development Group Co Ltd and Tellgen Corp .
There is no indication from the list that loans offered will necessarily be sought, or that such firms are in any financial need.
The Bank of Shanghai Co Ltd said it will lend 5.5 $786 million to 57 firms on its list. — Reuters