Xinhua Finance Releases Report on 'Credit Risks of China's Real Estate Sector'

2008-09-10 16:59 1395

Identifying Policy Risk as the Primary Risk Factor Affecting the Credit Worthiness of the Real Estate Industry

SHANGHAI, China, Sept. 10 /Xinhua-PRNewswire/ -- Xinhua Finance Limited ("XFL", TSE Mothers: 9399 and OTC: XHFNY), China's premier financial information provider, releases today its report on "Credit Risks of China's Real Estate Sector" that identifies policy risk as the primary risk factor affecting the credit worthiness of the real estate industry. Xinhua Finance discusses in the report the status of China's real estate developers, and examines both business and financial issues challenging the industry. Xinhua Finance analyzes such issues from a perspective unique in the market and finds that dynamic government policy changes constitute the primary risk for the industry.

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The report explains that China's real estate sector has benefited from the nation's strong economic growth and favorable government policy since the beginning of economic reforms. As a result the industry has for a long period of time enjoyed a remarkable expansion. But with the slowing of the economy and the tightening of credit, Xinhua Finance believes that the recent liquidity problems of the industry are the beginning of a process of unfolding credit risks associated with the nature of the industry that have accumulated over time. Xinhua Finance indicates that the adjustment by China's real estate industry to the on-going depressed environment is likely to extend over a significant period of time and suggests that investors exercise caution in considering the credit risk implications for debt securities issued by the real estate industry.

The report further points out that the risks confronting the industry arose from an imbalance amongst factors such as markets, development and management expertise, technology, and financing. The continuous growth of the real estate markets without undergoing significant adjustments has led to the accumulation of risks, an accumulation which is now beginning to release. Such imbalances are almost inevitable when the market starts from a very low base and expands at such a rapid pace. Compounding the risk is the fact that China has yet to fully transform into a market economy. China's real estate sector has been a captive of struggles between policy-guided and market-based development models since the industry started up. In light of the significant role played by the industry in China's overall economy, governmental change in any policy or level of macro-economic adjustment will impact the real estate sector to some degree. Among government policies requiring close monitoring are those related to property development, banking and finance, tax, business regulation, foreign investment, and housing guaranty programs. Adding to the industry's risk are the uncertainties arising from the fact that the formulation and progression of various government policies does not occur in a stable and predictable fashion. As a result, the credit worthiness of the industry and also individual developers cannot be expected to receive particularly high credit ratings.

Regarding the current situation, Dr. Chung-Hsing Chen, vice president and head of ratings and research for Xinhua Finance, stated that "the domestic real estate industry is very fragile and highly fragmented, and most developers do not have adequate experience dealing with a down-turn in the economic environment. With relative weak financial strength and management expertise, some developers are bound to face critical challenges when there are major government policy changes or significant market adjustments."

Commenting on the price reductions implemented by some developers in response to the slow down of sales and increased liquidity pressures, Dr. Chen stated that although price-cutting to boost sales might help individual developers to a small degree with their cash flow pressures, it will not significantly improve the liquidity pressures on the industry over the near-term. It is unlikely that pressures which built up over the years in over-heated markets can be relieved within a short period of time. In actuality the liquidity pressures could increase further, since for developers who failed to get additional capital injections, the worst winter is yet to come.

Caesar Ye, Xinhua Finance's chief real estate sector analyst, added that even though the market has recognized that the credit of real estate developers has trended towards the downside, Xinhua Finance will not be adjusting the ratings of real estate developers frequently because credit ratings of individual real estate developers have already taken into account the impact of the economic cycle. However, the conclusions of the report suggest that even at the peak of the cycle, the real estate industry is not likely to be assigned high ratings. Hence investors should continue to exercise caution in valuing corporate debt securities issued by real estate developers.

Xinhua Finance has been monitoring the development of China's real estate sector for an extended period of time and providing credit analyses of various risk factors confronting the industry. This report, with a focus on the risk implication of government policy, is one of a series of reports that will be released over time. Xinhua Finance will continue to monitor closely policy changes and major market developments, assess associated credit risk implications, and release our findings to the market in a timely fashion.

To read the full report (in Chinese only), please contact us at:

About Xinhua Finance Limited

Xinhua Finance Limited ("XFL") is China's premier financial information provider and is listed on the Mothers Board of the Tokyo Stock Exchange (symbol: 9399) (OTC ADRs: XHFNY). Bridging China's financial markets and the world, Xinhua Finance's proprietary content platform, comprising Indices, Ratings, Financial News, and Investor Relations, serves financial institutions, corporations and re-distributors worldwide. Through its subsidiary Xinhua Finance Media Limited (Nasdaq: XFML), XFL leverages its content across multiple distribution channels in China including television, radio, newspaper, magazine and outdoor media. Founded in November 1999, XFL is headquartered in Shanghai, with offices and news bureaus spanning 11 countries worldwide.

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Source: Xinhua Finance Limited
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Keywords: Real Estate