Evergrande avoids default but faces another deadline
Hong Kong (CNN Business)Another Chinese real estate company appears to be at risk of default, escalating fears of further problems in the country’s embattled property sector.
Shares of Kaisa Group, a Shenzhen-based developer, were suspended from trading on Friday in Hong Kong. The company’s subsidiaries, which were also halted from trading, cited a “pending” announcement about the group in stock exchange filings.
While Kaisa did not disclose more details for the reason behind the suspension, it had said the previous day that it was facing “unprecedented pressure” on its finances.
Chinese state-run financial newspaper Securities Times reported Thursday that the company told the outlet about its liquidity issues, and admitted to missing a payment related to its wealth management products.
Kaisa did not immediately respond to a request for further comment.
According to the report, Kaisa said that it was experiencing multiple headwinds, such as a challenging real estate market environment and the recent downgrading of its credit ratings by international agencies.
Those comments led the company’s shares to crash about 15% on Thursday. Its stock has already cratered by more than 70% this year.
The news comes as investors continue to fret over the crisis at Evergrande, China’s most indebted developer. The conglomerate has generated international headlines since September, after warning that it could default on its enormous debts of more than $300 billion.
Other players have also warned of their own problems, too. In recent weeks, a slew of developers have disclosed their own cash flow issues, asking lenders for more time to repay them or warning of potential defaults.
Kaisa faced a setback last week as Fitch and S&P Global Ratings both downgraded the company, citing debt concerns.
In a report, S&P analysts wrote that they viewed “Kaisa’s capital structure as unsustainable given the company’s sizable near-term debt maturities, weakening liquidity, and inadequate free cash flow through 2022.”
They estimated that about $3.2 billion of the company’s offshore notes would come due over the year to October 2022, suggesting that it “will need to rely on asset disposals and successfully improving its capital structure to avoid defaulting.”
According to the Securities Times, Kaisa said Thursday that it had been “actively raising funds … and doing its best to solve its current problems.”
But news of the company’s woes rattled the sector on Friday. The Hang Seng Mainland Properties Index, which tracks mainland Chinese companies in the sector, fell 2.8% in Hong Kong, following weeks of pressure on those stocks.
Investors are still watching to see if Evergrande will slip into default as its various debt payments come due. So far, it has managed to avoid that scenario by making good on a number of crucial obligations, including one reported last week.
But Evergrande faces yet another test Saturday, as another offshore bond payment comes due, noted Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst for Asia Pacfic at Oanda.
— CNN’s Beijing bureau contributed to this report.
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