Default Looms for Chinese Solar Company

Updated on
  • Tianwei Yingli's 1 billion yuan of notes were issued in 2010
  • China's credit-default swaps rose to two-year high last month

Defaults in China are expanding with a solar component maker the latest company to miss a bond payment, as the nation’s debt market flashes danger signs like equities did before their tumble began four months ago.

Baoding Tianwei Yingli New Energy Resources Co., whose majority holder was until last year the world’s biggest solar panel company by shipments, failed to make a complete payment on a note due Tuesday, it said in a statement posted to the China Foreign Exchange Trade System website. The firm paid only 643 million yuan ($101.4 million) of 1 billion yuan of principal due, while making full payment on 57 million yuan of interest, it said.

Slowing economic growth is adding to strains in China’s 42.2 trillion yuan bond market, which now has had five defaults this year including China National Erzhong Group, according to China International Capital Corp. Sausage maker Nanjing Yurun Foods Co. said Monday it’s not sure if it can repay a note due next week. With yields at five-year lows, stretched valuations have prompted Industrial Securities Co. and Huachuang Securities Co. to warn of a bubble.

“We will see more bond defaults in the coming year as the economic slowdown deepens,” said Liu Dongliang, a senior analyst at China Merchants Bank Co. in Shenzhen.

Investor Meetings

Tianwei Yingli sold the notes in question in 2010, and they now carry a 5.7 percent coupon. It said last week it planned to sell idle land to raise funds for repayment, but won’t get that transaction done in time.

The company "will accelerate the work process to monetize assets in order to repay the bond as soon as possible," it said in Tuesday’s statement. The manufacturer cited the overall situation of the solar sector, and said it’s "maintaining close communication with investors and associated brokers." It will meet with noteholders Wednesday, according to a separate statement.

The impact from the default will likely be limited, as the market was expecting it, according to China Merchants’ Liu.

Still, red flags in China’s bond market are fueling concern. Nanjing Yurun said it’s unsure it will meet an Oct. 18 deadline to pay 1.37 billion yuan in principal and interest on notes after its director was put under house arrest. That follows Kaisa Group Holdings Ltd., which became the first Chinese developer to renege on a debt obligation in the offshore bond market in April, after founder Kwok Ying Shing resigned amid a corruption probe.

Commerzbank AG puts the chance of a crash in China’s bond market by year-end at 20 percent, up from almost zero in June. The slide in stocks that started at that time is one reason corporate securities have done well even as defaults mount.

Many investors who sold shares during the Shanghai Composite Index’s 36 percent drop from its June high have plowed the proceeds into bonds. Yields on top-rated corporate notes due in five years have dropped 84 basis points this year to 3.97 percent, contrasting with a surge in credit default swaps on China’s sovereign debt last month to more than a two-year high.

Tianwei Yingli had losses of 325 million yuan in 2014, it said in a statement Sept. 29. Baoding Tianwei Group Co., which became the first state-owned company to default when it reneged on payments in April, has an indirect stake in Tianwei Yingli, and both are located in the northern town of Baoding.

— With assistance by Judy Chen

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