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Rumored lender restrictions refuted

By Wang Yanfei | China Daily | Updated: 2018-06-12 08:59

Chinese regulators will not block private or low-rated companies from granting loans, according to two officials who handle corporate debt issuance applications at local regulatory bodies.

The two officials rebutted a rumor that the National Development Reform Commission, China's top economic regulator, will issue a guideline raising the standards for corporate debt issuance, barring all private companies and those rated AA-or lower.

"The government hopes that corporate debt issuance will be an effective financing channel for the nonfinancial sector, and there is no reason to immediately reject lenders that fall into a specific category, either private companies or companies rated AA-or below," said one official, who handles corporate debt issuance documents at the development and reform office of a northeast province.

Another, who handles local corporate debt applications, said the regulator seems to have been getting stricter in processing application materials since late last year as it increased efforts to curb risks.

"The government hopes to ensure the quality of approved corporate debts," the source said.

The two officials declined to be identified because they were not authorized to speak to the media on the matter.

Concerns have arisen since a purported draft guideline by the NDRC - one of the main regulators granting approval for corporate bond issuance - circulated amid market players on Friday.

The purported draft said private companies and companies rated AA-or lower would be barred from issuing corporate debt, and issuers with AA+ or above would be encouraged.

The rumor triggered worries at a time when investors have had growing concerns about the ability of cash-strapped lenders to repay their debts; the concern was that barred lenders could then default on their own borrowed funds.

The two types of loan issuers that purportedly would be "restricted" are among those that worry the bond market most.

"There has been a rising number of defaults among issuers since the beginning of this year, and we expect the trend to continue, as funding conditions in the onshore market will remain tight," Ivan Chung, an associate managing director at Moody's Corporate Finance Group, said recently.

"The funding environment is challenging for weak issuers or those that rely on short-term debt for refinancing," said Chung.

In May alone, the 180 billion yuan ($28.1 billion) in bond issuance by private enterprises was 57 percent less than in April, according to Wind Info, a Chinese financial data provider.

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