FIRST CHIPS ABOUT TO FALL?
Chinese company debt twice the size of Ireland’s economy will come due in 2014, spurring concern the nation is on the cusp of its first corporate bond default.
A record 2.6 trillion yuan ($427 billion) of interest and principal on securities issued by non-financial companies must be repaid next year, 19 percent more than this year and the most since China International Capital Corp. began compiling the data in 2008. Ten-year AAA corporate bond yields surged 89 basis points since Dec. 31 to 6.18 percent, touching a record 6.23 percent on Nov. 27. That compares with a 70 basis-point rise to 2.68 percent for similar-rated notes globally.
People’s Bank of China Governor Zhou Xiaochuan’s signal the central bank will act to prevent excessive leverage has contributed to the surge in borrowing costs and forced many firms to delay financing plans. Rising interest rates may cause a “partial debt crisis to explode,” the official China Securities Journal said in a Nov. 26 editorial.
“The probability of default will get much higher in 2014 as maturing debt reaches a record,” said Shi Lei, the Beijing-based head of fixed-income research at Ping An Securities Co., a unit of the nation’s second-biggest insurance company. “The central bank’s policy of controlling leverage, which may last a long time, will crowd out companies with bad credit profiles and, ultimately, help restructure the economy.”