U.S. Markets closed

Hong Kong Bankers Rush Bond Deals to Avoid Late Day Protests

Annie Lee and Ina Zhou
1 / 2

Hong Kong Bankers Rush Bond Deals to Avoid Late Day Protests

(Bloomberg) -- Some Hong Kong and Chinese dollar-bond borrowers compressed their public book-building periods this week in a rush to get deals done sooner amid protests during work hours in the city’s business district.

Greenback notes in Asia sold to local investors as well as those in Europe are typically priced after 8 p.m. local time but escalating clashes have spurred deals to close hours earlier this week. China Aluminum International Engineering Corp. and Dexin China Holdings Co. priced their respective dollar bonds before 5 p.m.

Hong Kong is a major Asian hub for investors buying dollar bonds. Bankers are having to adapt in the wake of one of the city’s most turbulent weeks since protests started in June. Some investors are leaving their offices early as protesters block rush-hour traffic and subway stations are shut sooner. Volleys of tear gas firing outside offices on lunch breaks are becoming a common sight as major banks urge employees in the city to take precautions.

While demand has stayed firm despite the shorter execution times, dollar bond issuance in Asia outside Japan has more than halved to $4.3 billion this week through Thursday from the same period a week earlier, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

“The pace of new bond deals have definitely slowed from that of last week but I don’t think demand has dropped in the meantime. Inflows to the Asian dollar bond market have been largely unaffected,” said James Hu, executive director & senior portfolio manager at Income Partners Asset Management HK. But some of his client and issuer meetings have been postponed or canceled, he said.

Sentiment on Hong Kong issuers has weakened since June. Returns on their bonds have become the worst among investment-grade notes in Asia, racking up only 2.7% for investors, according to an ICE BofAML Index. Spreads on some Hong Kong high-grade dollar bonds including New World Development Co. and Nan Fung International Holding Ltd. widened on Thursday afternoon after Global Times said in a since-deleted tweet that the government is expected to announce a curfew for the weekend.

Read more: Protesters Gather in Central for Fifth Day: Hong Kong Update

“Unrest in the city is having an impact on our jobs but is still manageable as my company allows flexible work arrangement,” said Hu of Income Partners Asset Management.

(Updates with chart on bond returns in lower section)

--With assistance from Kari Lindberg.

To contact the reporters on this story: Annie Lee in Hong Kong at olee42@bloomberg.net;Ina Zhou in Hong Kong at hzhou179@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Neha D'silva at ndsilva1@bloomberg.net, Chan Tien Hin

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.