South Korea is mulling buying corporate bonds to be sold by troubled local industries including construction firms and shipbuilders in a bid to help ease their cash crunch, sources said Saturday.
The Financial Services Commission (FSC), the financial regulator, is weighing measures to support the ailing corporate bond market as low-credit companies are facing difficulty in securing funds, sources said, adding that detailed plans are to be announced next week.
The government is considering supporting builders, shipbuilders and shippers by making the state-run Korea Development Bank (KDB) buy their corporate bonds, which could help them repay maturing debts, they said.
The government may buy corporate bonds worth some 5 trillion won (US$ 4.4 billion), which will come to maturity between July and the end of this year, sources said.
Korea's corporate bond markets have been rattled in recent weeks as the Federal Reserves' announcement about its possible stimulus tapering has jacked up bond yields globally.
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said last week that the Fed could start reducing the pace of its bond-purchasing program later this year and could possibly end the program by mid-2014 if the U.S. economy improves as expected.
The Seoul government expects that its supportive actions could ease the funding squeeze facing troubled firms with credit ratings of "BBB" and below, officials said.
The amount of corporate bonds due to mature between July and December stands at 19.85 trillion won, with the corresponding figure for "BBB" or below rated companies coming in at 2.91 trillion won, according to the FSC data.