Yuexiu Property bonds widen amid talk of mis-pricing

Yuexiu Property, the company formerly known as Guangzhou Investment Company, prices an $850 million debut bond that sells off heavily in secondary.
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Guangzhou IFC, which was sold to Yuexiu Reit last year
<div style="text-align: left;"> Guangzhou IFC, which was sold to Yuexiu Reit last year </div>

Chinese state-owned property company Yuexiu Property priced a $850 million dual-tranche debut bond deal late Wednesday night, but the bonds sank in secondary trade on Thursday, leading some investors to criticise the deal’s execution.

“I think there was a mispricing,” said one investor. “There were different expectations between investors and the leads about where the bonds were supposed to come at. I think it came too tight. It’s a case of bad habits dying hard with these new issues. The first few deals such as Country Garden have performed, but since then pricing has gotten way too tight.”

The leads — Bank of China, DBS, HSBC and Morgan Stanley — started off marketing the five-year bond at Treasuries plus 280bp and the 10-year bonds at Treasuries plus 300bp. They told investors that the total deal size would not exceed $1 billion.

On the back of initially strong demand, this was significantly tightened to Treasuries plus 255bp to 260bp for the five-year bonds and Treasuries plus 275bp to 280bp for the 10-year bonds. At that point, there were about $4.5 billion worth of orders, with demand skewed towards the 10-year bond. The company finally priced a $350 million five-year bond and $500 million 10-year bond at the tight end of final guidance.

Yuexiu was the first triple-B state-owned enterprise to tap the international bond market in 2013. It is rated Baa3 by Moody’s and BBB- by Fitch.

According to Fitch, Yuexiu’s standalone credit profile is BB+ but its ratings benefit from a one notch uplift due to its “moderately strong linkage” with the state-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of Guangzhou Municipal People’s Government.

However, that argument was slightly contentious, and more than a few fund managers and analysts argued that it did not deserve a triple-B rating.

“The low-BBB rated but really a small BB+ Yuexiu Property [is] vulnerable to a re-run of the Franshion saga given that the rating agencies (and primary market) seems to have placed too much faith in the Guangzhou municipality support (Gitic clearly long-forgotten),” said Owen Gallimore, head of credit strategy Asia at ANZ, in a credit trading note.

Guangdong International Trust & Investment Corp, known as Gitic, defaulted on its debt back in 1998. At that time, many had thought that the Chinese government would stand behind the debt of its provincial investment companies. They thought wrong.

Yuexiu was formerly known as Guangzhou Investment Company, but changed its name to Yuexiu Property Company in 2009.

Investors also struggled to find the right comparable for Yuexiu. According to a source, there were two schools of thought: some investors were comparing the deal to China Overseas Land and China Resources Land, both stronger credits, while others were comparing it to Franshion Properties. In addition, the mood in the market softened quickly overnight.

“It was a slightly schizophrenic credit to begin with, and investors weren’t quite sure how to look at it,” he said. “It priced amid a softening backdrop, with KWG Property pulled last night and Cheung Kong struggling. Today, the street took a view that it should trade wider than where it priced and set up shorts.”

Even though the bonds priced tightly, there were still investors keen to buy at those levels. Yuexiu drew an order book of $3 billion across both tranches from 172 accounts. However, some $1.5 billion of orders had fallen away from the time of final guidance to pricing. The deal was also scaled back from $1 billion to $850 million.

In secondary, the five- and 10-year bonds traded down to Treasuries plus 285bp/275bp and Treasuries plus 310bp/295bp, respectively, or about 25bp and 20bp wider from reoffer, though there were quotes that put the bonds as far as 35bp to 40bp wide of reoffer throughout the day.

For the five-year tranche, asset managers were allocated 39%, banks 24%, private banks 24%, insurers and agencies 10%, and other investors 3%. Asian investors were allocated 76% and the rest allocated to European investors. For the 10-year tranche, asset managers were allocated 35%, private banks 33%, banks 16%, insurers and agencies 15%, and other investors 1%. Asian investors were allocated 89% and European and other investors 11%.

The Guangzhou-based property company listed on the main board of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 1992. In 2005, it spun off four commercial properties to establish GZI Reit, which is now known as Yuexiu Reit.

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