Economy

Signs That Covid-Hit Economy May Be Turning A Corner, with nascent recovery in Indian firms’ credit quality

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Rupee borrowing costs for local firms have risen this week as retail inflation quickened in May.

Unprecedented stimulus spending is leading to some early signs of recovery in the financial health of Indian companies after a tragic second wave of Covid-19.

  • The ratio of upgrades to downgrades in ratings and credit outlooks by the local units of S&P Global Ratings, Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Group has improved to 1.2 this quarter, set for the highest level in nearly three years, data compiled by Bloomberg show
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  •  “Local companies are facing fewer downgrades during the second wave of the pandemic than during the first wave as most of them have bolstered their liquidity in the past couple of quarters, thanks to all the pandemic support announced by policymakers,” said K. Ravichandran, a deputy chief rating officer at ICRA, a local unit of Moody’s
  • The nascent recovery in Indian firms’ credit quality adds to signs that the pandemic-hit economy may be turning a corner. Still, many investors remain cautious and are piling into bonds that compensate them with higher coupons each time the notes suffer a rating downgrade

Primary Market — Busy Week

  • Companies had sold Rs 94.2 billion ($1.3 billion) of local-currency notes as of Wednesday and plan to sell as much as Rs 56.1 billion in the remainder of the week. Issuance totaled Rs 13 billion last week
  • In the offshore debt market, billionaire Azim Premji’s information technology unit sold its maiden dollar bond this week to tap cheaper overseas borrowing costs for refinancing debt. Wipro IT Services, a unit of Wipro, priced a $750 million five-year dollar note at +80 basis points

Secondary Market — Adani Bonds

  • Dollar bonds issued by Adani group firms underwent volatile trading this week amid confusion triggered by a local media report that accounts of three Mauritius-based funds that own some of the companies’ shares were frozen by India’s national share depository
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  • Indian dollar bonds have gained 0.3 per cent in June so far, outpacing the 0.1 per cent rise in a broader Asian dollar bond gauge, according to Bloomberg Barclays indexes; Indian notes were the best performers among major peers in Asia last month
  • Rupee borrowing costs for local firms have risen this week after India’s retail inflation unexpectedly quickened in May. Average yields on top-rated five-year corporate bonds have jumped 16 basis points to 5.98 per cent since the week began

Credit Rating — Delhi International Airport

  • Moody’s Investors Service last week downgraded Delhi International Airport’s rating to B1 from Ba3, citing the adverse impact of a Covid-induced drop in passenger traffic and airport revenue
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  • “Some sectors such as aviation and hospitality that have been struggling since the first wave continue to face challenges in the second wave. They may take longer to recover to the pre-pandemic levels of revenue,” said Abhishek Bhattacharya, an analyst at India Ratings

Distressed Debt — Microfinance Issues

  • The amount of Indian microfinance loans in arrears for over 30 days could more than double to 14 per cent-16 per cent of the total in June from 6 per cent-7 per cent in March due to the fallout from the second coronavirus wave, Crisil Ratings wrote in a note
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  • India’s top court refused to examine a petition that sought directions to federal government for measures to ease financial distress caused by the second wave of Covid-19 infections and local shutdowns
  • Reliance Infrastructure, a member of Reliance Group, will subscribe to as much as 595 million shares of Reliance Power and a maximum of 730 million warrants convertible to equity by swapping its outstanding debt including interest of up to Rs 13.25 billion

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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