Ford Motor is planning a dim sum bond issue worth 500 million yuan (HK$612 million) in Hong Kong to raise funds for its mainland expansion, a person familiar with the offering said.
The Michigan-based carmaker was still fixing the price last night for the three-year yuan-denominated bond, which offers investors an annual fixed rate of between 5.25 per cent and 5.5 per cent, the person said. An official announcement is expected to be made today at the earliest.
Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and HSBC are the lead managers for the bond offering.
Ford is seeking to raise its profile and network in China, the world's largest car market, and catch up to more established rivals in the market, as it recently said it was cutting production capacity in German plants.
Apart from two assembly factories - one of which opened in Chongqing last month - the firm is also building transmission and engine plants on the mainland, which when combined would boost the firm's capacity by one million vehicles a year.
A company spokeswoman, Claire Li, said Ford was planning to spend millions of US dollars to double its mainland dealerships from 340 in 2010 to 700 by 2015. It plans to add around 100 dealerships on the mainland each year, especially in third- and fourth-tier cities.
'We go to market opportunistically as part of our overall strategic objective to finance our plan and improve our balance sheet,' Li said.
Ford's planned offering comes amid an upswing in fund-raising through dim sum bonds in recent years, with up to 172 billion yuan raised through the notes by December 2011 - just over four years after China allowed yuan bonds to be traded offshore.
Ford, which saw sales in China grow 7 per cent to 519,390 vehicles last year, did not provide a sales target for this year.
However, the company's president for Asia-Pacific and Africa, Joseph Hinrichs, told The Wall Street Journal last month that it projected China's vehicle sales to jump by about 5 per cent this year - lower than an 8 per cent growth forecast by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.
Ford's sales in China rebounded last month after a slack showing in January. It sold 40,978 vehicles last month, marking a 28 per cent rise from February last year.
The number of new models Ford aims to introduce in China this year, starting with the latest Focus compact car