Record Number of China LGFVs Overdue on Short Debt

(Bloomberg) — China’s local government financing vehicles are showing more signs of stress, with a record number missing payments on a popular type of short-term debt last month.

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A total of 48 LGFVs were overdue on commercial paper, which typically carries a maturity of less than a year, up from 29 in June, according to a Huaan Securities Co. report citing data from the Shanghai Commercial Paper Exchange. Their missed payments amounted to 1.86 billion yuan ($259 million), versus 780 million yuan in June.

The revelation is set to aggravate concerns about the financial health of LGFVs, which are mostly tasked with building infrastructure projects that may take years to generate investment returns. While none of them has defaulted on a public bond, their repayment risk has come under renewed scrutiny after China’s state pension fund recently advised asset managers handling its money to sell some notes including those from riskier LGFVs.

Other data points in the report give a sense of areas that have had the highest cluster of LGFVs to stumble on such debt in the past few years.

In data current through July this year going back to August 2021, the eastern province of Shandong accounted for 37 of the 140 LGFVs that have missed commercial paper payments in that period, followed by 21 from Guizhou, its impoverished peer in the southwest.

(Corrects to show that figures in last paragraph are for cummulative totals since August 2021)

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