Sat, Dec 10, 2016 - Page 10 News List

China to halve withdrawals in Macau: report


China is to halve the cash machine limit for certain cardholders visiting the gambling enclave of Macau, in its latest effort to curb massive capital outflows caused by the falling yuan, Hong Kong media reported yesterday.

Starting today, punters using the UnionPay (銀聯) system — about half of those visiting Macau from the mainland — will only be able to get 5,000 patacas (about US$600) from ATMs every day, the South China Morning Post reported.

The news sent casino stocks plunging, with Sands China Ltd (金沙中國) down 4.93 percent in Hong Kong, Wynn Macau Ltd (永利澳門) 5.82 percent lower and Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd (銀河娛樂集團) also losing 4.25 percent by the midday break.

Agence France-Presse was unable to confirm the report and the Monetary Authority of Macao did not respond to requests for comment.

UnionPay International (銀聯國際) said in a statement to AFP that its overseas cash withdrawal policies “remain the same” — 10,000 yuan (US$1,449) per day with an annual cap of 100,000 yuan. However, it added that it complies with regulations and laws issued by relevant authorities.

The move, if it happens, appears to be the latest attempt by Chinese authorities to stem a growing tide of capital flowing out of China as locals seek safer investments abroad.

Capital flight is estimated by Bloomberg to have reached US$1 trillion last year and has continued this year, despite recent efforts by Beijing to tighten restrictions on currency flows.

Analysts predicted the latest move would impact the territory’s gaming revenues.

“Union Pay is the mainland banks’ credit card system, equivalent to Visa and Mastercard,” Geo Securities Ltd (智易東方證券) chief executive officer Francis Lun (藺常念) said. “By shutting that off, that will really close the tab on the insurance industry and the gaming industry.”

China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange Reserve had already capped the amount of money UnionPay cardholders could spend overseas on insurance products earlier this year as wealthy Chinese have been buying up insurance policies in Hong Kong using credit cards.

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