Evergrande problems have been top of the headlines for more than a month. China’s second-largest property has been staring at bankruptcy for weeks and many (including myself) analysts predicted default in a few weeks.
In spite of these predictions and even their dire situation the Beijing based property developer is defying the odds by avoiding default two times in a row, albeit at the very last minute each time.
The developer first narrowly avoided default by transferring funds last weekend before the expiry of a 30-day grace period given after failing to make an offshore bond in September.
On Friday reports came in of another payment worth about $83.5 million of overdue interest on a dollar bond. This was shortly before the expiry of a grace period.
It is however unclear where the Evergrande is getting the money to save itself. It is rumoured that the company Chairman Xu Jiayin is being pressured by the government to dip into his personal wealth to keep the company afloat.
This is supported by a report by Bloomberg early last week which reported that Chinese authorities ‘ordered’ Xu to use his personal wealth to pay for the company’s debt obligations. Local media in Hong Kong also cited information from a local land registry that showed Xu using a mansion in the city to secure bank loans.
These reports are however unverified although it is worth pointing out that the highlighted property is incredibly expensive, priced at around 700 million Hong Kong dollars ($90 million).
Evergrande also sold over six million shares of its mainland Chinese division Guangzhou Kailong Real Estate worth over 15.48 million yuan ($2.4 million) in China Calxon Group, a Shenzhen-listed development group. Evergrande does still own about a fifth of the company through Guangzhou Kailong.
Despite these payments having been made roughly in time, the property developer still remains in critical condition. Its total liabilities stand at a staggering $300 billion with $148 million worth of unpaid interest due last month.
It still has $338 million worth of offshore coupon payments to make in the next two months.
“Evergrande has tried its best to solve liquidity problems, but it’s a little bit difficult to gather enough capital to pay all the debt. I think there [will] be some negotiations between Evergrande and its lenders, so some sort of haircut is still possible. The market still needs some time to digest and to price this in.” said Cliff Zhao, chief strategist at China Construction Bank International in Hong Kong.
Evergrande share fell 3% in Hong Kong on Friday. Its dwindling resources set against its huge amount of liabilities has led to an almost 80% wipeout of its value.
In my previous posts about Evergrande’s crisis, I and a number of writers predicted that its crisis was likely to affect the whole property sector in China.
These predictions have proven to be true as a number of property holders and developers have followed Evergrande into the doldrums. Sinic Holdings (Group) Co, Fantasia Holdings Group Co Ltd, Ltd, Modern Land (China) Co Ltd and China Properties Group Ltd have all defaulted on dollar debt obligations this month.
Speaking to the Guardian John Kicklighter, chief strategist at the market data and research firm DailyFX said that companies such as Sinic and Kaisa were only doing the bare minimum to keep afloat and predicted that the crisis would widen.
“Evergrande should be seen as a possible global threat rather than just ‘China’s problem’,” he said. “The company is systemically important to the Chinese financial system that had seen its rules eased during the last financial crisis (2008) and levels of gearing explode in turn. Under such circumstances, moderate risks can turn into universal hazards.”
Chinese authorities are however not barging on their stand not to step in to help these companies. Regulators have ‘encouraged’ property developers to “jointly maintain their own reputations and the overall order of the market.”