BC makes second Panda Bond issue

By Chen Jia | China Daily | Updated: 2017-11-24 08:09

The Canadian province of British Columbia made its second yuan-denominated bond issue of 1 billion yuan ($151 million) in the Chinese market on Wednesday, supporting the development of the domestic interbank market while anticipating a further opening of the financial sector.

This three-year Panda Bond, which matures in November 2020, is priced at a coupon rate of 4.8 percent. Bank of China and HSBC Holdings Ltd are the two joint-lead underwriters of the offering.

The bond has been almost twice-oversubscribed by both domestic and foreign investors, indicating market confidence in the province's economy and the further internationalization of China's bond market, the world's third-largest, Jim Hopkins, assistant deputy minister of the British Columbia Provincial Treasury, Ministry of Finance in Canada, said on Thursday in Beijing.

It was the province's second issuance of a Panda Bond. The first offering raised 3 billion yuan on Jan 21, 2016, with a three-year maturity, and a coupon rate of 2.98 percent, making the province the first foreign sovereign government to establish a Panda Bond program in China.

"Raising capital in the Chinese market helps to strengthen our international trade and financial profile," said British Columbia Finance Minister Carole James.

The bond can be purchased and traded under the newly established Shanghai-Hong Kong bond connect program that gives foreign investors greater access to the onshore capital market, and nearly 30 percent of the total volume has been subscribed by foreign investors, according to the issuer.

The funds raised by the bond will be invested in China's interbank market, possibly in corporate bonds, said the Canadian officials.

It is another successful Panda Bond offering after it debuted the first time a year earlier, although the interest rate level in the onshore bond market has risen, showing investor confidence in the issuer's AAA rating based on a stable economic outlook, said Su Bo, senior manager of the Investment Banking and Asset Management Department of Bank of China.

As the Chinese financial sector's opening-up progresses, the interbank market will become more attractive and mature for foreign investors, he added.

British Columbia received approval for a 6-billion-yuan program in 2015, including pre-approved conditions on subsequent bonds at a maximum of 3 billion yuan each and terms of up to 10 years. The program will expire on Dec 3 this year.

In November 2014, the People's Bank of China, the central bank, designated Canada as an offshore yuan trading hub. This allows for the use of yuan in trades between the British Columbia province and China, and more efficient investment by Canadian financial institutions.

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