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Investors await Evergrande’s overdue $148 million payment as debt woes grow


Concerns mounted about a deepening liquidity crisis in the Chinese property sector on Wednesday ahead of a deadline for cash-strapped China Evergrande Group to make an offshore bond coupon payment. Evergrande, the world’s most indebted developer, has been stumbling from deadline to deadline in recent weeks as it grapples with more than $300 billion in liabilities, $19 billion of which are international market bonds. The company has not defaulted on any of its offshore debt obligations, but another overdue $148 million bond payment must be made on Wednesday and it has coupon payments totalling more than $255 million on its June 2023 and 2025 bonds on Dec. 28. Beijing has been prodding government-owned firms and state-backed property developers to purchase some of Evergrande’s assets to try to control the fall. Despite the stifling debt woes of Evergrande, its electric vehicles (EV) unit is pushing ahead with its business plan. The unit is seeking Chinese regulatory approval to sell its inaugural Hengchi 5 sport-utility vehicles. China Evergrande New Energy Vehicle Group Ltd plans to sell HK$500 million ($64 million) worth of shares to fund production of new energy cars. The unit plans to sell 174.83 million new shares, or 1.76% of the enlarged share capital, at HK$2.86 per share in a top-up placement, it said in a filing to the Hong Kong bourse. Shares in Evergrande were little changed from previous close on Wednesday morning, while the EV unit was up 1.4%. Worries over the potential fallout from Evergrande roiled China’s property sector on Tuesday, slamming the bonds of real estate companies amid worries that the crisis could spread to other markets. The slide in bond prices came just hours after the U.S. Federal Reserve warned China’s troubled property sector could pose global risks. Underlining the liquidity squeeze, some real estate firms disclosed plans to issue debt in the inter-bank market at a meeting with China’s inter-bank bond market regulator, the Securities Times reported on Wednesday. China’s property woes rattled global markets in September and October. There was a brief lull in mid-October after Beijing tried to reassure markets the crisis would not be allowed to spiral out of control, but concerns have resurfaced. Rising concern that the developers’ woes spreading to other sectors was visible on Wednesday as the spread, or risk premium, between lower risk, investment grade Chinese firms and U.S. Treasuries widened to a more than five-month high. Founded in Guangzhou in 1996, Evergrande epitomised a freewheeling era of borrowing and building. But that business model has been scuttled by hundreds of new rules designed to curb developers’ debt frenzy and promote affordable housing. Any prospect of Evergrande’s demise raises questions over more than 1,300 real estate projects it has in some 280 cities. Bank exposure to developers is also extensive.


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