Asia G3 bond issuance plunges in March amid Covid-19
Global market uncertainty pushes issuers and investors into risk-off mode
2 Apr 2020 | Chito Santiago

The impact of Covid-19 was evident in G3 bond issuance in Asia, outside of Japan and Australasia, in March when the volume plunged further to US$6.32 billion from 23 deals, compared with US$28.16 billion on 54 deals in February. With both issuers and investors generally on risk-off mode amid global market uncertainty, the volume was also far below the amount recorded in March 2019 of almost US$26 billion from 65 transactions.

Figures supplied by Refinitiv showed over half of the total offerings in March were from Chinese issuers. They amounted to US$3.38 billion, representing a decline of 76.3% from over US$14.23 billion in March 2019. Issuances from Hong Kong totalled US$2.59 billion, while those from India and the Philippines amounted to US$200 million and US$100.9 million, respectively, through one deal each. There was likewise only one transaction amounting to US$50 million from South Korea, which used to account for a sizeable volume of issuance annually from the region.

Among the significant deals during the month was China Cinda (2020) I Management’s tapping of the US dollar market for US$2 billion in four tranches. The offering attracted a total demand of US$10.9 billion at the time of the final price guidance announcement. Other Chinese issuers that printed deals in March include Haitong International Finance (US$670 million), MCC Holding (Hong Kong) Corporation (US$400 million), and Beijing Capital Polaris Investment (US$300 million).

The volume of issuance, though, for the first three months of 2020 remained robust at over US$83.94 billion compared with US$84.82 billion in the same period a year ago on the back of strong issuance in January amounting to US$46.30 billion as the G3 bond market maintained the momentum manifested in 2019.

High-yield bond issuance also plummeted in March to US$1.43 billion on eight deals from US$5.88 billion in February and US$7.58 billion in March 2019. Issuances from China amounted to US$622.1 million, against US$4.79 billion a year ago, while those from Hong Kong totalled US$610.5 million compared with US$1.10 billion in March 2019. The only other issuance came from India amounting to US$200 million.

For the first three months of 2020, the total high-yield bond issuance reached US$25.64 billion, which was down 12.4% from US$29.28 billion in the corresponding period a year earlier. Issuance from China during the three-month period declined 36.2% to US$12.66 billion against US$19.84 billion in 2019.

A number of Chinese high-yield issuers were able to access the market by pricing deals with tenor of less than a year. These included Central China Real Estate, which in February sold a 364-day bond amounting to US$300 million, and Hopson Development Holdings, which also priced a 364-day bond amounting to US$500 million.

Meanwhile, the initial public offering (IPO) market completed 49 issues valued at US$4.31 billion in March, according to Refinitiv, up from US$3.94 billion on 53 issues in March 2019. The largest IPO deal during the month was for SBI Cards and Payments Services of India, which raised US$1.4 billion after selling 137.15 million shares at 755 rupees (US$9.86) each. From China, the most significant IPO transaction in terms of size was for Shandong Dongyue Organosilicon Materials, which raised US$297.43 million and listed on the ChiNext board of the Shenzhen Stock Exchange.

For the first three months of 2020, the IPO market in Asia, outside of Japan and Australasia, recorded US$15.91 billion worth of new share listings, nearly double the US$8.24 billion raised in the same period a year ago. On the other hand, the convertible bond (CB) market fell significantly during the same period with volume of US$9.39 billion, compared with US$23.33 billion in the corresponding period of 2019.

In March alone, the CB deals included those for Guangdong Haid Group, which raised US$403.95 million, Huaan Securities (US$402.60 million), China Fortune Land Holding (US$338.30 million) – all from China – and Pegatron Corporation of Taiwan (US$331.08 million).

The syndicated loan market also witnessed a huge drop in volume to US$64.50 billion in the first three months of 2020, compared with US$106.94 billion during the same period of 2019. Borrowers from Hong Kong, China, India and Taiwan largely drove the activity during the period, accounting for almost 90% of the total volume.

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