China's push to reform its shadow banking sector is about to get its first big test as one of the country's high-yield trust investment products appears set to default for the first time.
Investors in the trust, which has the unwieldy moniker "2010 China Credit / Credit Equals Gold #1 Collective Trust Product," likely won't be paid back at the end of the month after Industrial and Commercial Bank of China said it won't bail out the product it helped to market.
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The 3 billion yuan, or around $496 million, trust used its funds to make a loan to unlisted coal company Shanxi Zhenfu Energy Group, which has since collapsed.
While this isn't the first time a trust product has found itself with pockets to let, it could become the first to pass on the pain to investors, who widely perceive these products as having a guarantee from state-owned banks.
"They're treading a fine line," said Richard Jerram, chief economist at the Bank of Singapore.