The inability of Portuguese conglomerate Espirito Santo International to make some of its short-term debt payments has fueled concerns one of its units, Portugal's leading bank, Banco Espirito Santo, might default on its debt.
The region's banks and governments are considered too closely knit, so that had a knock-on effect on Portuguese government bonds, and with memories of the European credit crisis still fresh, spurred fears of "doom loop" around the continent.
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Within Asia, corporate borrowing picked up in recent years. Data from the Bank for International Settlements show international corporate bond issuance from 2010 to the first half of 2013 was up over 133 percent by China companies, while India and Korea saw around 39 percent and 21 percent increases respectively, with the rest of Asia seeing a more than 54 percent increase.
While many analysts believe contagion from Portugal is unlikely, Asia's companies may face knock-on effects from a credit issue closer to home: China's Qingdao port is investigating whether cargos of metal were used and re-used as collateral to obtain financing from different banks and trading houses, possibly leaving banks and firms around the region holding the bag.
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In these types of cases, the main risk isn't the payment default by the company abusing collateral, it's the domino effect on subcontractors and suppliers, which will also not be paid, Verstraete said.
To be sure, Euler Hermes' own data show Asian insolvencies will likely remain relatively low in 2015, down around 19 percent from 2007, despite a slight increase in numbers in China. Globally, the company expects insolvencies to continue to decline from global financial crisis highs, but to remain well above the levels seen in 2007.