HITIC default may signal a restructuring, say optimists

HITIC''s failure to make a $6.9 million bond interest payment puts the bondholders in bed with the creditor banks, suggesting a restructuring plan may be in the offing.

Hainan International Trust Investment Corp HITIC raised few eyebrows when it failed to pay the $6.9 million interest due on its Y14.5 billion $135 million 2001 Samurai bonds within a 14-day grace period. That was extended after it missed an original payment date of 26 June. This was despite assurances from Jin Liqun, vice-minister at the Chinese Ministry of Finance, that HITIC - the investment arm of the Hainan provincial government - would come up with the money. Liqun said the default resulted from a technical problem.

The only real surprise for holders of HITIC's 2001 and Y14 billion 2004 Samurai bonds is that they have been...

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