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Rating Action:

MOODY'S RAISES THE LONG-TERM DEBT RATING OF CITIC PACIFIC FINANCE LIMITED TO Baa1

18 Aug 1997
MOODY'S RAISES THE LONG-TERM DEBT RATING OF CITIC PACIFIC FINANCE LIMITED TO Baa1 Hong Kong, August 18, 1997 -- Moody's Investors Service raised the long-term senior debt rating of CITIC Pacific Finance Limited, guaranteed by CITIC Pacific Limited, to Baa1 from Baa2. CITIC Pacific Finance Limited is wholly-owned by CITIC Pacific Limited and is a Cayman Islands incorporated financing vehicle. Moody's said that its action reflects CITIC Pacific's greater focus on synergy from its existing operations and expertise, the company's relatively low leverage through the course of its restructurings, and the increasing cash flow streams that its many infrastructure projects in China are generating. The rating agency also noted the unpredictability and high operating risks of the company's activities in mainland China, as well as some remaining uncertainty as to the ultimate control and the general governance of CITIC Pacific.
Moody's said that CITIC Pacific controls a wide range of investment projects in both Hong Kong and mainland China. The company's principal holdings are in the infrastructure industry, particularly power generation and civil facilities (tunnels and bridges) that it has itself developed or financed, and these are mainly in China. In addition, it also has significant interests in established companies, especially in the aviation industry with a 25% ownership in Cathay Pacific Airways, Hong Kong's successful flagship airline, and 28% in Dragonair, its associate. The company's other operations include property development, trading, and industrial manufacturing, principally in Hong Kong. CITIC Pacific's Chinese investments have utilised its financial and technical expertise, as well as its powerful connections. Its Hong Kong investment philosophy has evolved from that of a passive investor to taking a more active role in the direction of its companies, as its management experience and financial resources have grown. In early 1996, the company was closely involved with Mainland interests in the restructuring of Cathay Pacific and Dragonair, and in January 1997 it purchased a 20% stake in China Light & Power, a leading Hong Kong electrical utility. These moves, and the sale of company's interest in Hong Kong Telecom, have increased the company's focus on its targeted industries of infrastructure and aviation. The China Light & Power transaction is expected to have some synergies with CITIC Pacific's experience in constructing power plants in China.
Moody's said that after the development phase of earlier years, CITIC Pacific's substantial investments in power plants and civil facilities in China now generate an increasing share of the company's cash flow. However, although CITIC Pacific has hitherto been able to negotiate favourable operating agreements with local entities, the ultimate protection of the company's contractual rights lies more in the good faith, credibility, and self-interest of its local partners or the supervising bodies than in the immature and ineffective legal system within China. Consequently, the satisfactory and orderly operation of these major and politically sensitive infrastructure projects in China remains uncertain and unpredictable, in the opinion of the rating agency.
Moody's also noted that CITIC Pacific's balance sheet has been conservatively managed, with a low level of debt: interest payments are well covered by cash flows, the bulk of which still comes from its investments in stable and long-established Hong Kong companies.
CITIC Pacific is 26.5% owned by China International Trust & Investment Corporation Hong Kong (Holdings) Limited (+Holdings'), which is in turn wholly-owned by the Beijing-based and government-owned China International Trust and Investment Corp. (+CITIC'). In December 1996, CITIC sold a 16% interest in CITIC Pacific to a group of CITIC Pacific's senior executives, who now together own about 21% of the company. The remaining 52% of shares are owned by the public. Although CITIC Pacific's management has autonomy in the day to day running of the company, Moody's said that the extent of influence of CITIC, or even elements of the Chinese government, over the company is still uncertain even after the recent share transaction. Further major restructuring of CITIC's own businesses is certain to take place at some time, and this may well involve a change to its remaining CITIC Pacific ownership.
The long-term foreign currency debt of CITIC is rated Baa1, as Moody's considers that these obligations would receive more support from the Chinese government, in view of the close relationship between the company and the Chinese government in the former's capital raising. Moody's rates the long-term debt guaranteed by China International Trust & Investment Corporation Hong Kong (Holdings) Limited (+Holdings') Baa3. In Moody's opinion, Holdings does not represent a stronger credit than CITIC itself, nor of its principal domestic subsidiary, CITIC Industrial Bank. CITIC Industrial Bank is a significant commercial bank in China, and the core of CITIC's financial businesses: it is rated Baa3 for its long-term foreign currency deposits and debt.
CITIC Pacific Limited is a Hong Kong registered and listed company, and reported total assets at end-1996 of HK$50 billion (US$ 6.7 billion).
No Related Data.
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