Hundreds rush to rural Chinese banks after solvency rumors

Tue Mar 25, 2014 7:36am EDT
 
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By Gabriel Wildau and Kazunori Takada

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Hundreds of people rushed on Tuesday to withdraw money from branches of two small Chinese banks after rumors spread about solvency at one of them, reflecting growing anxiety among investors as regulators signal greater tolerance for credit defaults.

The case highlights the urgency of plans to put in place a deposit insurance system to protect investors against bank insolvency, as Chinese grow increasingly nervous about the impact of slowing economic growth on financial institutions.

Regulators have said they will roll out deposit insurance as soon as possible, without giving a firm deadline.

Domestic media reported, and a local official confirmed, that ordinary depositors swarmed a branch of Jiangsu Sheyang Rural Commercial Bank in Yancheng in economically troubled Jiangsu province on Monday.

The semi-official China News Service quoted the bank's chairman, Zang Zhengzhi, as saying it would ensure payments to all the depositors. The report did not say how the rumor originated.

Chen Dequn, a resident in Yandong, just outside Yancheng, said she saw a crowd of about 70 to 80 people gathering in a branch of Sheyang Rural Commercial Bank in her town on Tuesday.

"At the moment there are about 70 or 80 people in there. Normally there'd only be about 10," she told Reuters by telephone.

Officials at another small bank, Rural Commercial Bank of Huanghai, said they had faced similar rushes by depositors, triggered by rumors of insolvency at Sheyang.   Continued...

 
People gather in front of a branch of Jiangsu Sheyang Rural Commercial Bank, in Yancheng, Jiangsu province, March 25, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer