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Moody’s Upgrades Chances of Local Government Default in China, Country Admits 20% of Loans are High Risk

“Moody’s Investor Services said China’s local-government financing vehicles face greater risk of default, as regulators warn 20 percent of their loans are risky.

A rally in LGFV bonds may reverse, particularly should delinquencies emerge, Christine Kuo, a Moody’s analyst, wrote in an e-mailed response to questions on March 8. The average yield may rise to 7 percent by June from 6 percent now, according to Shenyin & Wanguo Securities Co., the first brokerage incorporated in China and ranked the nation’s most influential research provider by New Fortune magazine in 2010.

“I see increased risk of LGFV defaults because the financial profiles of many remain weak and heavy refinancing is needed,” Hong Kong-based Kuo said. “Regulators have asked banks to control their LGFV exposures. Some of the projects could default unless other sources of funds are found.”

People’s Bank of China Governor Zhou Xiaochuan said in a March 13 press briefing that about one-fifth of loans to the financing arms of local governments are risky. Net debt issuance by these entities surged 179 percent in 2012 to 1.132 trillion yuan ($182 billion), accounting for 50 percent of corporate bond sales, according to Bank of America Corp. data.

The China Banking Regulatory Commission warned lenders to exercise caution and limit their holdings of bonds sold by local governments’ financing arms, the 21st Century Business Herald said on March 13. Banks aren’t allowed to increase outstanding loans to LGFVs above the level as of Dec. 31, 2011, the report said. Phone calls made by Bloomberg News to the regulator’s press office went unanswered.

Loan Curbs…”

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