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SOEs from China's Shanxi will be able to meet near-term bond repayments -local offical

SHANGHAI, Nov 19 (Reuters) - A senior official from China’s Shanxi said state-owned enterprises (SOEs) from the province would be able to meet repayment obligations on bonds which mature in the near-term, seeking to soothe investor nerves after several SOE defaults.

The defaults, including one on a 1 billion yuan ($150 million) bond from state-owned Yongcheng Coal & Electricity Holding Group based in Henan province this month, have sent shockwaves through China’s $4.4 trillion market for non-financial corporate bonds.

In particular, confidence in bonds issued by SOEs from impoverished regions with a similar investmnent profile like coal-rich Shanxi have been hard hit.

Wang Yixin, Shanxi’s deputy governor, told a Nov. 18 meeting of financial institutions “there’s absolutely no problem” with near-term bond repayments.

“It’s naturally right and proper to repay money after borrowing. It’s in the genes of Shanxi businessmen,” Wang was quoted as saying by a Shanxi government release.

Wang also vowed the local government would “safeguard Shanxi’s reputation in the way we protect our eyes”, adding that he thought recent SOE defaults were extreme individual cases.

His remarks follow a Nov. 14 letter from Shanxi’s state asset management company to creditors, according to local media. Shanxi SOEs were strong enough to ensure there would not be a single default when bonds mature and the local government asked creditors for their continued support, the letter was reported as saying.

This month, a growing number of Shanxi SOEs, including energy producer Jinneng Group and Shanxi Coal Import & Export Group, have cancelled bond sales citing market volatility.

Shanxi kicked off reforms this year to reduce its heavy reliance on coal mining, and diversify into emerging industries, part of a national campaign to restructure the state sector. ($1 = 6.5630 Chinese yuan) (Reporting by Samuel Shen and Andrew Galbraith; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)