British Columbia mulls panda bond after success of dim sum offering

Mon Jun 15, 2015 4:32pm EDT
 
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VANCOUVER, June 15 (Reuters) - British Columbia, which was the first foreign government to sell a Chinese currency-denominated "dim sum" bond, is now eyeing the possibility of issuing a "panda" bond as its looks to attract more Asian investment to the Pacific Coast province.

"There is a possibility. I can't tell you that it will happen tomorrow or next week, but it's something we are looking at," British Columbia Finance Minister Mike de Jong told reporters on Monday, when asked about the option.

A dim sum bond is a bond issued outside of China but denominated in Chinese renminbi, while a panda bond is a renminbi-denominated bond from a non-Chinese issuer sold within mainland China.

The Western Canadian province raised 2.5 billion yuan ($402.7 million) in late 2013 on the sale of its first one-year dim sum bond, with Asian investors taking the lion's share of the offering.

Only one company, German carmaker Daimler, has sold panda bonds since regulators opened the format in 2010. The only other issuers have been supranational agencies, like the International Finance Corporation and the Asian Development Bank.

De Jong did not say what size panda bond British Columbia was considering, though he noted the province has generally stuck with benchmark size issuances in the past and cautioned it was too early to pin down any exact numbers.

"I don't want to go too far down the path to suggesting something is imminent or a particular amount. We'd be cautious about that," he said.

De Jong added that being the first foreign government to sell a dim sum bond "significantly" boosted the West Coast province's profile on the international stage and that additional renminbi-backed offerings would likely be positive.

($1 = 6.2080 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Reporting by Julie Gordon; Editing by Dan Grebler)