Japan’s Aozora Bank slumps to near 3-yr low as US property exposure spurs loss By Investing.com

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Investing.com– Shares of Aozora Bank fell sharply on Friday, extending losses to a near three-year low after it flagged massive losses stemming from bad loans exposed to U.S. commercial property.

Aozora Bank, Ltd. (TYO:) slid nearly 17% in Tokyo trade to a near three-year low, extending steep declines from the prior session after the bank flagged its first annual loss in 15 years. The drop came after Aozora said it now expected a net loss of 28 billion yen ($190 million) for the year to March 31, compared to earlier forecasts for a profit of 24 billion yen.

The bank said the loss was driven chiefly by higher U.S. interest rates denting its securities portfolio, while its portfolio of U.S. office loans was hit by a shift to remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The bank said it will not pay dividends for the remainder of the financial year.

Aozora was the second major lender to flag losses on exposure to U.S. real estate. New York Community Bancorp Inc (NYSE:) slashed its dividend and flagged a big charge on real estate-linked bad loans earlier this week. 

The bank’s shares plummeted 38% on Wednesday, and dragged regional banking stocks lower. The slump triggered fears of another banking crisis as seen last year, during the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank- which triggered a series of bankruptcies and deposit runs across regional U.S. banks. 

Aozora was the worst performer on the , which fell 0.1%. Other bank stocks on the index also retreated, with Nomura Holdings Inc (TYO:) falling 2.4%, while Chiba Bank Ltd (TYO:) and Japan Post Bank Co Ltd (TYO:) lost 1.3% each.

The index fell 0.3%. Heavyweight Nomura was also hit with profit-taking after it surged to a near nine-year high earlier this week, following strong quarterly earnings and a buyback. 

While Aozora is a relatively small bank in comparison to its Japanese peers, investors feared that the factors faced by Azora could also impact other lenders in the country. 

This notion came amid increasing conviction that the Bank of Japan was gearing up to raise its ultra-low interest rates this year- a scenario that will bring an end to the acommodative environment enjoyed by Japanese businesses. 


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