News ID: 239283
Published: 1152 GMT February 23, 2019

A surprise China debt default upends assumptions on official aid

A surprise China debt default upends assumptions on official aid
TOMOHIRO OHSUMI/BLOOMBERG

A Chinese state-backed borrower’s failure to make good on a payment on a dollar bond threatens to overturn assumptions that officials would step in to avert defaults by companies closely linked to local authorities.

Qinghai Provincial Investment Group Co., an aluminum producer that was seen by some analysts as a bellwether for assessing government support due to its struggles to make payments on offshore debt last year, had failed to wire funds for a coupon payment due Feb. 22 as of late afternoon China time. That was according to an official at QPIG, as the issuer is known, who asked not to be named citing company policy. There is no grace period for a missed coupon on this note, according to the bond prospectus, suggesting it’s now in default, Bloomberg wrote.

As recently as mid-December, S&P Global Ratings had removed QPIG from CreditWatch with negative implications, concluding that it would “continue to receive ongoing government support and be able to meet its short-term financial obligations over the next 12 months, despite its weak liquidity.” S&P rated QPIG at B+, four steps below investment grade.

While discussions have been taking place to shore up QPIG, based in the western province of Qinghai, Friday’s failed payment indicates limits to officials’ appetite to aid borrowe