China's corporate debt has hit record levels and is likely to accelerate a wave of domestic restructuring and trigger more defaults, as credit repayment problems rise.
Chinese non-financial companies held total outstanding bank borrowing and bond debt of about $12 trillion at the end of last year - equal to over 120 percent of GDP - according to Standard & Poor's estimates.
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Growth in Chinese company debt has been unprecedented. A Thomson Reuters analysis of 945 listed medium and large non-financial firms showed total debt soared by more than 260 percent, from 1.82 trillion yuan ($298.4 billion) to 4.74 trillion yuan ($777.3 billion), between December 2008 and September 2013.
While a credit crisis isn't expected anytime soon, analysts say companies in China's most leveraged sectors, such as machinery, shipping, construction and steel, are selling assets and undertaking mergers to avoid defaulting on their borrowings.