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Embattled Evergrande warns of growing default risks as pressures mount

EconomySep 14, 2021 08:00AM ET
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© Reuters. People gather to demand repayment of loans and financial products at the Evergrande's headquarters, in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, China September 13, 2021. REUTERS/David Kirton

By Clare Jim and Samuel Shen

HONG KONG/SHANGHAI (Reuters) -Cash-strapped property group China Evergrande Group said on Tuesday it has engaged advisers to examine its financial options and warned of default risks amid plunging property sales, sending its stock and bond prices sharply lower.

The real estate giant has been scrambling to raise funds it needs to pay lenders and suppliers, with regulators and financial markets worried that any crisis could ripple through China's banking system and potentially trigger wider social unrest.

In the latest development, Evergrande said two of its subsidiaries had failed to uphold guarantee obligations for 934 million yuan ($145 million) worth of wealth management products issued by third parties.

That could "lead to cross-default", which would "would have a material adverse effect on the group's business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations," it said in a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange, without providing further details on the products.

The company's shares slumped to a six-year low in Hong Kong on Tuesday and the Shanghai bourse halted trading of its listed bonds amid wild swings in its price.

Evergrande said it has appointed Houlihan Lokey (NYSE:HLI) and Admiralty Harbour Capital as joint financial advisers, the clearest indication yet that it is looking at restructuring options, analysts say.

The two firms will assess the group's capital structure, evaluate its liquidity, explore solutions to ease the current liquidity stress and reach an optimal solution for all stakeholders as soon as possible.

"Evergrande's announcement flags the first step of a restructuring, which usually involves either delay in interest payment, no interest payment or delay together with haircuts," said James Shi, distressed debt analyst at credit analytics provider Reorg.

He added liquidation would only happen if the restructuring failed.

Evergrande late on Monday said online speculation about bankruptcy and restructuring was "totally untrue".

That came despite growing markets expectation that Evergrande may need to restructure, after China ruled in August that various lawsuits against the developer would be centrally handled in Guangzhou.

Evergrande said it is talking to potential investors to sell some of its assets, but has made no "material progress" so far.

The company said earlier this month that it was in talks to sell certain assets, including stakes in Hong Kong-listed units Evergrande New Energy Vehicle and Evergrande Property Services.

Pressure on Evergrande - which has 1.97 trillion yuan ($305 billion) in liabilities - has intensified in recent weeks as fears over its ability to repay investors triggered protests that are certain to rattle Beijing.

The company blamed "ongoing negative media reports" for dampening investor confidence, resulting in a further decline in sales in September.

WIDER IMPACT

Shares of the company fell over 10% on Tuesday morning to their lowest since December 2014. Its listed e-vehicle spinoff plunged over 23% and shares of its property management unit dropped 8%.

In the debt market, Evergrande's June 2025 dollar bonds fell nearly 6 cents on Tuesday late morning to 27 cents, yielding 58.45%, according to financial data provider Duration Finance.

Moves in the company's highly illiquid onshore bonds were more erratic, with one Shanghai exchange-traded bond surging nearly 23% and triggering a trading halt, while another in Shenzhen dived almost 12%.

Reorg's Shi said there may be fresh bond selling if Evergrande defaults, but the market spillover would be limited because the risks have mostly been largely priced in.

The bigger risks are likely to be social, he added.

Angry investors gathered near Evergrande's headquarters in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen on Monday to demand the firm repay loans and financial products.

The developer's struggles to quickly sell off assets and avert defaults on its massive liabilities are raising the risk of contagion for other privately-owned developers, fund managers and analysts say.

In a statement on Monday, it said it was facing "unprecedented difficulties" but would do everything possible to resume work and protect the legitimate rights and interests of its customers.

The company's debt has been repeatedly downgraded by ratings agencies targeting the developer over its struggles to restructure huge debts.

($1 = 6.4511 Chinese yuan)

Embattled Evergrande warns of growing default risks as pressures mount
 

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Comments (3)
Fong SH
Fong SH Sep 14, 2021 2:30AM ET
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LOL it's been a slew of bad news from China for months now. This is to teach companies who doesn't obey the law accordingly & also to answer analysts who had written so much ugly reports of China's economy. Since everyone is so negative abour her, well, she must as well be negative as well, thus there's nothing ugly to write about anymore. Silently, China is selling USD bonds and strengthening her RMB, which nobody is observing at all, everyone is too busy noticing US reports on unemployment, inflation and so forth. Than you have those tightening reports, summoning of China's listed companies, namely Tencent, Alibaba for questioning, breaking up ANT. It's a silent ****here, RMB strengthening but USD still stays strong? Think. When the real reports comes out, it's going smash everything. Take care, stay safe and healthy when outdoors, stock markets will always be there, health is more important.
Necleus Electron
Necleus Electron Sep 14, 2021 1:58AM ET
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Well, no matter how it still not as big of a scam compare to Enron and Madoff!
alex gallegos
alex gallegos Sep 14, 2021 1:58AM ET
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It has 305 billion dollars in liabilities. Madoff investors only lost 50 billion.
Hank Reardon
Hank Reardon Sep 13, 2021 9:15PM ET
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Black Swan identified
 
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