China’s property sector troubles intensified on Monday after Fantasia Holdings‘ credit rating was slashed by four notches by Fitch – after reports the firm had missed a payment on a previously undisclosed bond.
Fitch cut Fantasia’s rating to ‘CCC-‘ from ‘B’, also warning that uncertainty over its finances meant there was a “significant” risk it would not make a $208 million payment due on one of its higher-profile international bonds on Monday.
The initial alarm though was triggered by media reports Fantasia had missed a $100 million payment due on last week to bondholders who exercised so-called ‘put’ options on a private bond.
“The bond was guaranteed by the company, but it does not appear to have been disclosed in the company’s financial reports,” Fitch said.
“We believe the existence of these bonds means that the company’s liquidity situation could be tighter than we previously expected,” it said, but added Fantasia’s management had said no other offshore off-balance sheet borrowings exist beyond the $150 million of private bonds.
Some of China’s biggest property firms, including the country’s second largest, China Evergrande, have seen their bonds slump in recent months amid worries they face collapse.
Fitch estimates Fantasia has nearly $2 billion of international bond payments to make between now and the end of next year as well as almost $1 billion (6.4 billion yuan) of local market bond payments.
The company said it had 24 billion yuan ($3.72 billion) of cash at the end of July, including 10 billion yuan at the holding company level.
Fitch said there was uncertainty however about Fantasia’s ability to access such cash and transfer cash offshore to repay its US dollar bonds.
It added that while the firm has said it intends to transfer funds needed to repay the $208 million due on Monday to the necessary ‘trustee’ accounts, it had “not been able to ascertain if it has done so.”
- Reuters with additional editing by Sean O’Meara