December 3, 2019 / 12:32 PM / 5 days ago

UPDATE 3-China's Peking Founder races for funds as dollar debt defaults loom

* Peking Founder seeking state-owned strategic investor - sources

* Company has 10 bln yuan maturing debt each month - sources

* Company given 15 days to repay 2 bln yuan for an onshore note

* Failure will cross-default $2.95 bln offshore bonds - Nomura (Adds details on maturing debt in paragraph 5, context in paragraphs 2, 12 & 13)

By Noah Sin, Cheng Leng and Steven Bian

HONG KONG/BEIJING/SHANGHAI, Dec 3 (Reuters) - China’s Peking University Founder Group is scrambling for funding after it failed to repay an onshore bond on time, three sources told Reuters on Tuesday, which could trigger defaults on billions of the borrower’s offshore U.S. dollar bonds.

The cash crunch at the state-owned holding company, which has business interests in technology, healthcare and property, has emerged against a backdrop of record bond defaults by Chinese corporate issuers and slowing economic growth in China.

State-owned Peking Founder told investors on a conference call on Tuesday it had yet to obtain the 2 billion yuan ($284 million) it needs to repay the overdue note, the sources said, although it had a grace period of 15 days to do that.

According to the sources, the company said it was seeking strategic investment from a large state-owned enterprise, and that it would seek to deal fairly with all its debt, whether onshore or offshore, and to make any repayments on time.

The company also told investors it had used up 8 billion yuan it borrowed from China Cinda Asset Management, and that it still faces an average of 10 billion yuan of debt maturing each month, two of the sources said.

Failure by Peking Founder to repay the two billion yuan within 15 days will trigger cross-defaults of the company’s $2.95 billion offshore U.S. dollar debt, according to Nomura .

“PK Founder’s current situation is quite binary and is purely dependent on being able to attract a high-quality strategic investor,” the Japanese brokerage’s analysts wrote in a note on Tuesday.

Peking Founder did not respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Two of the sources also acknowledged that investor worries have been brewing over the past month on Peking Founder’s potential default on billions of dollars.

Data compiled by Reuters from regulatory filings shows that nearly 50 corporate issuers had defaulted on payments on bonds with a principal value of almost 100 billion yuan as of Dec. 3.

Several such bonds traded on double-digit yields with one note maturing in 2020 hitting an eye-watering 79% in November, reflecting growing investor concerns.

Private companies have borne the brunt of the burden of rising default rates in China, but Peking Founder is the second high-profile state-owned issuer to default in recent weeks.

In November, commodities trader Tewoo Group proposed a debt restructuring on a U.S. dollar bond, which according to Moody’s was the first in the offshore market by a Chinese regional or local government-owned company since 1998.

Shanghai-listed Founder Securities and China Hi-Tech Group issued statements on Tuesday evening saying Peking Founder’s plans for strategic investments have not yet been finalised.

Peking Founder is the largest shareholder in both companies, according to Refinitiv data.

$1 = 7.0389 Chinese yuan Editing by Jan Harvey, Andrew Galbraith and Jacqueline Wong

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