China Rating Firm to Set Up Hong Kong Unit on Panda Bonds

  • Golden Credit Rating to evaluate issuers of panda notes
  • Panda debt offerings have risen eightfold so far this year

Golden Credit Rating International Co. is planning to set up a Hong Kong unit in 2016, in the latest example of a Chinese rating company expanding overseas to take advantage of rising demand for yuan funds.

The Beijing-based firm plans to evaluate issuers of panda bonds, yuan debt sold in the onshore market by borrowers based overseas, and help Chinese companies sell notes in the offshore market, according to Luo Guang, Golden Credit’s chairman. The company, owned by China Orient Asset Management Corp., is in the process of applying with Hong Kong regulators to establish the unit, he said.

“The panda bond market will have big development this year,” Luo said in a phone interview on June 24. “Yuan internationalization is an unchangeable trend. Many companies in Hong Kong, especially H-share companies, have strong demand to sell panda bonds.”

The gradual opening-up of China’s bond market to foreign borrowers is boosting overseas demand for yuan funding while Chinese companies are seeking more cash outside of the mainland, creating business opportunities for the nation’s rating firms. Sales of panda notes have jumped more than eightfold to 25.2 billion yuan ($3.8 billion) so far this year compared with the same period in 2015, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“It’s inevitable for Chinese local rating companies to go overseas,” said Luo. “Chinese bond issuers have been tapping the overseas market and local rating companies must follow suit.”

Luo said in the long run the yuan will strengthen as holdings of the currency increase worldwide, while over the short or medium term there may be some volatility. The yuan has weakened 2.4 percent against the dollar this year.

China Chengxin (Asia Pacific) Credit Ratings Co., a subsidiary of China Chengxin Credit Management Co., became the first such mainland company to operate overseas when it got permission to evaluate companies in Hong Kong in 2012, according to its website. A Hong Kong subsidiary of Dagong Global Credit Rating Co. started business in 2014, the website of the Beijing-based rating firm’s unit says.

Golden Credit has 25 branches and one wholly-owned subsidiary in mainland China, according to its website.

— With assistance by Ling Zeng, and Judy Chen

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