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A March 2019 picture showing visitors outside the Wynn casino resort in Macau. Regulatory risks continue to hammer investors as China is seen tightening its grip on the gambling hub. Photo: AFP

Hong Kong stocks hit 10-month low as regulatory risks infect Macau casino firms while China Evergrande’s lenders suffer

  • Stocks have surrendered almost all of the rally in the past four weeks amid a sell-off in casino firms and on Evergrande’s debt woes
  • Business outlook of casino operators affected and fair-value uncertainty has risen to very high, Morningstar said
Hong Kong stocks dropped for a fourth day, sending the benchmark gauge to the lowest in 10 months, on mounting concerns regulatory crackdown is far from over following a move on Macau’s casino industry. Some banks tumbled as China Evergrande sought forbearance on loans.

The Hang Seng Index slid 1.5 per cent to 24,667.85 at the close on Thursday, the lowest since November 2. The benchmark has lost 9.4 per cent this year, the worst performer among the major equity gauges globally. The Hang Seng Tech Index retreated 1 per cent while China’s Shanghai Composite Index lost 1.3 per cent.

Sands China led a sell-off that erased more than US$19 billion in market value from Macau casino stocks over two days. China Evergrande Group and some of its principal lenders tumbled after the developer asked to defer loan repayments, according to a media report.

The Macau plan “could reduce the visibility on casino operators’ long-term business outlook, and we raise our fair value uncertainty rating for the Macau gaming companies to very high from high,” Jennifer Song, an analyst at Morningstar, wrote in a report. “The policy steer is fairly vague, in our view, but the reference to social responsibility is sending chills down the spines of investors, given recent developments in the technology and education sectors in China.”

Macau’s surprise proposal, including stricter daily supervision and controls on capital outflows, reignited concerns about the regulatory crackdown that wiped out more than US$1 trillion in market cap from Chinese tech and education stocks overseas.

Sands China dropped 8 per cent to HK$15.50, adding to a record 33 per cent plunge a day earlier. Wynn Macau fell 4.7 per cent to HK$6.10 after sinking 29 per cent on Wednesday. A gauge of six Macau casino operators trading in Hong Kong and the US retreated 5.7 per cent, after a 23 per cent slump a day earlier.

China Evergrande Group retreated 6.4 per cent to a decade-low HK$2.63. The Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development told banks this week that the property developer would not be able to pay its debts due on September 20, a Bloomberg report said, adding that the firm was trying to roll over some loans.

China Minsheng Banking slumped 6.5 per cent to HK$3.02 and Agricultural Bank of China shed 1.1 per cent to HK$2.69. Shanghai Pudong Development Bank slipped 1 per cent to 3.98 yuan. They were listed among Evergrande’s principal bankers in its most-recent annual report.


Evergrande also halted trading of its onshore bonds for a day to allow investors to digest the impact of a credit rating cut by China Chengxin, according to a company statement. The stock has crashed 27 per cent this week. The developer said on Tuesday it hired outside advisers to help tackle its debt burden.

Three companies all rose on their first day of trading on the mainland. markets. GAD Environmental Technology surged 262 per cent from the initial public offering in Shenzhen. Zhejiang Zone-king Environmental Science and Technology jumped 127 per cent and Shaanxi Meibang Pharmaceutical gained 44 per cent.