StanChart sets aside US$1b to finance pharma firms, mask makers tackling Covid-19

SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) – Standard Chartered on Monday (March 30) said it will set aside US$1 billion (S$.43 billion) to finance companies that are providing goods and services to tackle the Covid-19 outbreak.

These firms will include manufacturers and distributors in the pharmaceutical industry and healthcare providers, as well as manufacturers of items such as ventilators, face masks, protective equipment and sanitisers.

The bank that derives about two-thirds of its total operating income from Asia intends to offer financing at preferential rates to these companies. The financing will come in the form of loans, import finance, export finance, or working capital facilities to help these firms tool up, and get their products to market.

In a press statement, Simon Cooper, chief executive officer of StanChart’s corporate and institutional banking division, said: “Clearly there’s a cost for companies to switch into these hugely in-demand items, so it’s an area where we can help them get up and running more quickly. At the same time, we want to make sure that existing manufacturers and service providers get the support they need.”

The bank said it is also trying to identify companies that may switch into, or add, anti-virus products to their output but have not indicated that they will do so.

“Our industry teams are looking across our client base and, given our understanding of clients’ current manufacturing processes, we’re assessing which companies might want to consider adding these items to their production line,” Mr Cooper added.

All financing will be subject to companies having received regulatory approvals to manufacture the goods.

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