Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s Taobao Platform Selling Distressed Debts

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s Taobao Platform Selling Distressed Debts
By Charliepug (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Alibaba’s Taobao marketplace is the largest online retail platform in China, selling everything from clothes to shoes to houses to Apple Watch clones. Now you can also snatch up some bad assets in China via Taobao. China’s state-run Cinda Asset Management has started using Alibaba’s marketplace to auction off bad loans. It has sold two so far, and there are a lot more on the way, reports South China Morning Post.

Alibaba has built a new auction platform on Taobao

Alibaba has established a new auction platform on Taobao to auction bad debts, real estate, forest assets, machinery, intellectual property, private equity and intangible assets. Lenders such as Ping An Bank, Minsheng Bank and China Merchants Bank are listed as sellers. Though Cinda’s deals were small, they underscore the potential of Internet finance in China.

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Cinda said it sold loans owed by two private companies in Zhejiang province. A loan from a steel mill sold for $3.2 million, while another from a brooms and candles factory fetched 4.4 million yuan. Cinda executive Li Xiaoguang said the company was planning to sell a lot of similar bad loans on Taobao. The listings suggested that bidders were actually buying rights to buildings, land and equipment, with little expectation of recovering cash from debtors.

Chinese courts also selling distressed assets on Taobao

It’s not the first time lenders are selling distressed properties on Alibaba’s platform, though. Chinese courts have already been using Taobao to dispose of assets seized in a nationwide anti-corruption crackdown. An Alibaba spokeswoman told Eva Dou of The Wall Street Journal that the company had been working on the auction platform since November 2014 and launched it in February.

Cinda sold the two contracts in less than eight hours, after receiving about 8,000 views. It recalled a third listing. Foreign investors looking to purchase some distressed mainland Chinese assets should be a bit cautious. When asked whether foreigners could buy the assets, Li told the South China Morning Post that he was “not sure.”

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