200,000 Consultations Provided To Virus-Hit Businesses

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Financial institutions in Japan provided 212,000 financing consultations between Feb. 1 and March 19 to businesses affected by the novel coronavirus outbreak, it was learned Thursday.

In 5,800 cases, lenders agreed to change the terms of loans at the request of struggling borrower companies between March 10 and 19, an emergency survey by the Financial Services Agency also showed. Of them, 2,600 cases involved regional banks.

The government is asking financial institutions to consider loan repayment moratoriums to prevent businesses from running into financing crunches, since many companies close the books Tuesday.

The findings are part of the interim results of the FSA's special hearings conducted on major banks, regional lenders, shinkin banks and shinkumi credit cooperatives.

The changes in loan terms reported by the surveyed lenders included principal moratoriums of around six months, interest rate reviews and repayment rescheduling.

The survey results showed there were cases in which financing requests by existing customers were approved at the discretion of branch managers within one or two days.

Financial institutions are making efforts to provide money flexibly, including through funds that make loan decisions within the day of applications.

Concerns over business financing are growing particularly among small companies, spurred by travel restrictions and supply chain disruptions around the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The FSA is also asking financial institutions to report by around Tuesday their assistance to struggling borrowers under Article 24 of the banking law and other rules. Details of their assistance will be published later.

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