A-list Hong Kong property firms make a dash for cheap loans

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 13 September, 2013, 3:00am

Hong Kong's A-list property names are making a dash before the year-end for fundraising in the loan market, taking advantage of a recent downward trend in pricing.

Property giants have been frequenting the bond market over the past year as bond pricing proved more attractive than for loans. However, as bond pricing rises, many are returning to the loan market.

Hang Lung Properties, for example, paid a 2.95 per cent coupon on a seven-year bond issue in June, and this month had to pay 3.65 per cent on a 4½-year issue.

IFC Development, Sino Land and Sun Hung Kai Properties are the latest names to have surfaced in the loan market, and are in talks for deals.

They follow closely on the heels of recent financings launched for property giants Henderson Land Development, Cheung Kong's indirectly owned Fortune Real Estate Investment Trust and Wheelock Properties.

Pricing for top-tier corporates have dropped drastically from last year. SHKP set the tone at the beginning of this year with a 158 basis points all-in on a five-year loan, compared to a 176-point all-in on a three-year paper for IFC early last year.

IFC is now sounding lenders for a refinancing, while SHKP is talking to banks for a five-year facility and hoping to get a pricing that is lower than Henderson's.

Henderson is offering respective all-in pricing of 125 and 135 basis points on a four-year and a five-year loan.

Meanwhile, Sino Land is expected to seek a refinancing of its loans maturing next year.

Bankers said now would be the best time to seize low pricing, as many expected it to increase next year as banks' funding costs were on the rise. Some said costs had gone up by at least 25 basis points.

Funding costs have risen because of a more expensive interbank market as banks are tidying their balance sheets for the year.

Bankers said even if pricing did not increase, some banks could be stingy with liquidity. Thus borrowers would need to pay more to get funds.

A source said current loan pricing was better than on bonds.