Guolian Securities, an investment banking group listed in Hong Kong, has bought a 30.3 per cent stake in Minsheng Securities for 9.1 billion yuan (US$1.3 billion) through an online auction, after creditors seized the asset to recover debt owed by its distressed parent Oceanwide Holdings. The company outbid rivals including Soochow Securities and Zheshang Securities after a 162-round of bidding war for the block of shares. It was transacted on JD.com’s auction platform, with a reserve price of about 5.9 billion yuan. Creditors last month obtained approval from the Jinan Intermediate People’s Court to sell the shares, according to a local media report on Sina.com. Shenzhen-based developer Oceanwide had 226.2 billion yuan debt as of July 2021, accumulated from an aggressive expansion at home and abroad, only to fall into a debt trap as borrowing costs surged and financing dried up. Like many peers, Oceanwide ran into liquidity problems not long after Beijing squeezed weak and overleveraged players – from China Evergrande to Guangzhou R&F Properties and Kaisa Group, to contain systemic risk in the local financial system. Guolian’s shares jumped 2.9 per cent to HK$3.85 in Hong Kong trading, giving it a market capitalisation of HK$31.5 billion. The stock has declined 6 per cent so far this year, after losing 2 per cent in 2022. Minsheng Securities reported a 33 per cent jump in net profit in 2021, according to local media. Led by chairman Ge Xiaobo, a seasoned investment banker and a former senior executive at Citic Securities, Guolian is expanding in an “oligarchic market” where the total profits of the top three companies accounted for 23 per cent of the entire industry, he said. China pushed a registration-based system for domestic fundraising to spur stock listings, thus creating new opportunities for growth. The firm, which offers brokerage, wealth management and bond underwriting, last month agreed to buy 49 per cent of Zhongrong Fund for 1.44 billion yuan, pending a full takeover at a later date. Oceanwide’s creditors seize US skyscraper after developer’s default “The reform of the registration system is expected to bring more business opportunities,” Ge told shareholders in August, before the system was applied across the broader onshore market. “The IPO review speed is accelerated, the expansion of capital market scale is boosted, and the investment banking business shows an overall growth trend.” China Oceanwide Holdings, the troubled developer’s Hong Kong-listed unit, last month separately warned of possible losses of HK$2.3 billion to HK$2.7 billion for the year 2022, on top of a HK$5.4 billion setback in 2021 as it lost control of some assets in Shanghai, Los Angeles and New York.