Sinopec, Asia's largest refiner in terms of capacity, will issue mid-term to long-term corporate bonds to finance a 65 billion yuan (US$8.4 billion) cross-region gas transfer project, according to a company statement released on Wednesday.
"Through the bond issuance the company wants to level off the interest rate amid concerns over (benchmark interest) rate hikes," said an unnamed company official.
The statement said the company would decide the total amount to be issued in line with its actual need and whether the bonds would be issued all at once or in separate stages had not yet been decided.
The coupon will not exceed 90 percent of the central bank's simultaneous benchmark interest rate for loans, said the statement.
Sinopec plans to invest 110.1 billion yuan (US$14.2 billion) in capital investment in 2007.
Investment in exploration and production is expected to be 53 billion yuan (US$6.8 billion) as the company builds up its network for shipping natural gas from southwest Sichuan to industrial regions on the eastern coast.
According to China's laws, a company can issue bonds worth no more than 40 percent of its net assets.
"The issuance will not exceed that quota," said the official.
The company's equity was valued at 255 billion yuan (US$33 billion) last year.
In the statement, the company said the issuance had not been examined by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and it would strive to shorten the process in order to limit costs.
Sinopec's Puguang gas fields in Sichuan Basin boast a proved reserve of 356 billion cubic meters. The company is likely to participate in building a second west-east natural gas pipeline next year, according to previous reports.
This will be the second time Sinopec has issued mass corporate bonds. The company approved the issuance of bonds worth 10 billion yuan earlier this year.
(Xinhua News Agency May 10, 2007)