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Shares of Soho China, a real estate company run by an influential couple, fell by a third on Monday after Blackstone Group backed out of its deal to buy the company.

Soho China said in a joint filing Friday that Blackstone would not follow through on its $ 3 billion bid for a controlling stake in the company, without giving a reason. Wall Street investment giant Blackstone and Soho China declined to comment further on Monday.

The company is controlled by Zhang Xin and Pan Shiyi, a married couple who share the title of executive director. Mr. Pan, who is the chairman, was one of the first Chinese entrepreneurs to use social media for his public relations and has tens of millions of subscribers online. Ms. Zhang is well known in part for her role in a 2013 deal to buy a stake in the General Motors Building in Manhattan.

The news comes as China’s most successful business tycoons come under intense scrutiny and increasing pressure to share more of their wealth. The deal, reportedly one of the largest in the real estate industry, was announced in June, with regulatory review pending. This was seen as an initiative of the husband and wife team to reduce their exposure to China.

A deal for Soho China could also have boosted confidence in the country’s real estate sector, which, after years of remarkable growth, comes under tighter regulatory scrutiny as Beijing tries to end excessive borrowing by companies. Developers were forced to start paying growing bills under new central bank rules, called the “three red lines”.

Evergrande, China’s biggest developer, has scared investors, homebuyers and pundits who are predicting bankruptcy in the near future.

In recent weeks, house prices and demand in some of China’s biggest cities have started to weaken. A leading Beijing think-tank said last week that the industry had “shown signs of a turning point.”

Real estate issues, along with reports of further regulatory tightening in mainland China, contributed to an almost 2% drop in Hong Kong shares on Monday.

Investors panic as Blackstone pulls out of a China real estate deal.
Credit… Sandy Huffaker for The New York Times

More than 500,000 student borrowers – with nearly $ 10 billion in student loan debt – have had their loans written off this year, Stacy Cowley reports for The New York Times.

President Biden has so far pushed back calls for the kind of blanket debt cancellation that is a top priority for many progressive lawmakers, but a parade of relatively modest improvements in eligibility and relief are being added. to a significant expansion of support for besieged borrowers. And more may be to come: The Education Department has said it is planning regulatory changes to programs to help public servants and people on income-tested reimbursement plans.

There are plenty of incentives for the federal government – the largest lender to Americans who borrow for college, holding $ 1.4 trillion in debt owed by 43 million borrowers – to quickly fix failing aid programs. Since the pandemic took hold in March 2020, virtually all of these loans have been on an interest-free hiatus, which is expected to end on January 31. And each loan released is one less loan for the agency.

The ministry’s actions so far have generated little controversy – few oppose giving military personnel, disabled borrowers and defrauded students the relief to which they are legally entitled – but the idea of ​​canceling more broadly, student debt is a lightning rod. Republicans don’t like the idea of ​​putting the cost on taxpayers, and its left-wing critics see it as a subsidy for those with expensive professional degrees.

“Our overall goal is permanent change,” said Kelly Leon, spokesperson for the Department of Education. “We are building a student loan system that works for borrowers and provides them with the congressional relief that has been elusive for too long.”

The push for widespread debt cancellation has eclipsed calls to address glaring administrative issues that urgently need to be addressed, advocates say. READ ARTICLE →

Investors panic as Blackstone pulls out of a China real estate deal.
Credit…Ryan Christopher Jones for The New York Times

Fannie Mae, the federally backed institution that buys mortgages from banks, plans to check many people’s bank accounts – with their permission – for a record of regular rent payments to help assess qualification. for mortgages.

His data showed that only 17 percent of people who had not owned a home in the previous three years and who would not have qualified for a mortgage before could do so now. But that 17% come from a group disproportionately made up of people of color, many of whom have limited credit histories and come from marginalized groups on the wrong side of a decades-long wealth gap.

Fannie Mae does indeed set a lot of standards for who qualifies and what data matters, and so far rent hasn’t counted, despite being the biggest payment most tenants make every time. month. For many years now, consumer advocates and industry insiders have agreed that this is not the way it should be.

The convoluted, multi-step process that Fannie uses will mean a lot of people won’t benefit from it at first. New York Times Your Money columnist Ron Lieber takes a look →


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