Guangdong International Trust & Investment Corp (Gitic) yesterday announced a leadership reshuffle and made public its repayment this week of US$177 million in syndicated loans to foreign banks, in a bid to demonstrate its financial viability. A company official admitted the announcement was made after serious concerns had been raised over the health of international trust and investment corps (Itics), particularly in Guangdong. This month's Moody's Investors Service credit-ratings downgrade of Gitic and other Itics highlighted concerns. The Gitic official said: 'We have never defaulted on any repayments on domestic and foreign loans. The decision to cut our credit rating is unfounded.' He said leadership changes at Gitic had confirmed the firm's importance as a key fund-raising window for the Guangdong government. The Guangdong government had appointed experienced officials at Gitic when three of the firm's senior executives resigned from the posts, officials said. Replacing Di Changyun as chairman is the former Guangdong deputy finance bureau chief Lin Hanshu. Chairman of its Hong Kong-listed arm Mai Zhinan remains as vice-chairman and president. Apart from the annual capital injection of 100 million yuan (about HK$93.09 million) from this year till 2000, the provincial government was also putting $100 million of quality assets into Gitic to improve its balance sheet, the official said. Gitic had assets of more than 30 billion yuan and its debt to asset ratio was greater than 80 per cent. The financial health of Itics came under the spotlight in July when Guangdong Overseas Chinese Trust & Investment Corp missed a $14 million loan repayment. The firm settled the repayment last month. However, this affected its plan to raise a $20 million syndicated loan which was put on hold as banks preferred to stay on the sidelines. To allay fears about Guangdong Itics, assistant to the governor Wu Jiesi visited Hong Kong last week and assured creditor banks that the Itics would repay their loans on time. To this end, the provincial government has decided to earmark more than 10 billion yuan to meet foreign debt repayment obligations in the short term.