Chinese regulators have urged corporate offshore bond issuers to “actively prepare” to pay off their debt amid concerns over defaults by property developers.
At a symposium on Tuesday, the National Development and Reform Commission, which oversees offshore bonds, said it would smooth the way for borrowers to restructure debt obligations.
But it also stressed that companies “are required to continuously optimize their foreign debt structure, use foreign debt to raise funds in strict accordance with approved uses, and conscientiously abide by financial discipline and market rules.”
Borrowers should also “actively prepare for the redemption of the principal and interest of overseas bonds, and jointly maintain their own reputations and the overall order of the market,” the NRDC said in a statement.
The commission met with issuers days after property giant Evergrande paid $83.5 million worth of overdue interest on a dollar-denominated bond that was due last month, just as a 30-day grace period was about to expire.
“Worries over defaults by Chinese property developers have spooked international investors and could make it more difficult for the companies to refinance their debts,” CNN said.
Chinese property developers account for 64% of Asia’s non-financial bonds that mature over 2022 to 2026, according to Moody’s, and offshore bonds, promissory notes, and other financial instruments issued by highly leveraged developers account for almost 9% of China’s total foreign debt.
Fitch Ratings last week placed 26 developers under observation, reflecting the risk of bond defaults.
Before Tuesday, the Chinese government was “quiet about any threats posed by an inability of Evergrande and other developers to pay offshore debts,” CNN reported, but the NRDC’s statement “may indicate that Beijing understands that any market fallout from Evergrande needs to be limited.”
“The top concern [for regulators] should be the overall credit rating of Chinese offshore bonds,” said Iris Pang, chief economist for Greater China at ING, adding that Beijing also wants to ensure future demand for such bonds is not affected.
At Tuesday’s meeting, some property developers proposed extending their offshore bond maturities or undertaking a debt restructuring.