The China Evergrande group failed to pay bond interest owed on Wednesday, two bondholders said, its second unpaid offshore debt in a week, although the cash-strapped company made a partial payment on Thursday to some of its onshore investors.
The company, under $ 305 billion in debt, was due to make a $ 47.5 million bond interest payment on its March 2024 9.5% dollar bond interest payment on Wednesday, after missing $ 83.5 million. dollars in coupon payments last Thursday.
With a liability equal to 2% of Chinese GDP, Evergrande has raised fears that its woes will spill over into the financial system and reverberate around the world, although concerns subsided somewhat after the central bank committed. to protect the interests of home buyers.
The central bank on Wednesday urged financial institutions to cooperate with relevant departments and local governments to maintain the “stable and healthy” development of the real estate market and protect the interests of housing consumers.
Evergrande’s silence on its offshore payment obligations, however, has led global investors to question whether they will have to take significant losses at the end of the 30-day grace periods for the coupons that were due on September 23 and 29.
Some Evergrande offshore bondholders had not received any interest payments or communications as of the end of Wednesday New York time, said people familiar with the matter, who declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the problem.
A spokesperson for Evergrande did not immediately comment. Reuters has not been able to determine whether Evergrande has told bondholders what it plans to do regarding the coupon payment due Wednesday.
However, the developer’s treatment of offshore investors contrasts with the way the company manages its onshore commitments.
Evergrande said Thursday that its wealth management unit has reimbursed 10% of the Wealth Management Products (WMPs), which are largely owned by onshore retail investors, which must be reimbursed by September 30.
Payment was made on Thursday and the affected funds were issued to investors’ accounts, Evergrande said in a notice posted on its website.
He did not specify how much money was paid.
The two missed offshore payments come as the company, which has nearly $ 20 billion in offshore debt, faces deadlines for dollar bond coupon payments totaling $ 162.38 million next month.
Once the best-selling developer in China, Evergrande is now set to be one of the largest restructuring ever in the country. He prioritized his onshore commitments, fearing his problems could spark social unrest.
“I don’t see a lot of willingness to give a fairer result to offshore bondholders rather than onshore banks, let alone homebuyers and people who have lent onshore through personal loan structures,” said Alexander Aitken, partner at Herbert Smith Freehills. in Hong Kong.
“Of course, legally there is also structural subordination abroad, which means that the lenders of Evergrande’s onshore subsidiaries are paid before the lenders of the parent company or any offshore debt issuer.”
Beijing is unlikely to intervene directly to resolve the Evergrande crisis in the form of a bailout, but analysts say it is wary of a messy collapse that could fuel the unrest.
Some instant messaging groups used by people who owed Evergrande money to stage protests and discuss claims have been blocked on Tencent Holdings’ WeChat platform, members of the group said on Wednesday.
Disgruntled homebuyers, investors and suppliers staged protests at offices in Evergrande this month, though authorities cracked down on such activity.
On Thursday, there was a visible police and security presence outside the Evergrande headquarters in the southern city of Shenzhen.
In recent days, authorities have urged public companies and state-backed property developers to buy certain Evergrande assets in order to reduce those risks.
Evergrande said on Wednesday it would sell a 9.99 billion yuan ($ 1.5 billion) stake it owns in Shengjing Bank Co Ltd to a state-owned asset management company.
The bank, one of Evergrande’s main lenders, demanded that all net proceeds from the sale be used to settle the developer’s debts with Shengjing, who had 7 billion yuan in loans to Evergrande in the first half of the year. last year.
Separately, Evergrande’s Pearl River Delta company said in a WeChat article on Tuesday that construction had resumed on nearly 20 developments in the region.
The post showed photos from various sites and said the resumption of work had accelerated since Evergrande pledged earlier this month to deliver the homes to buyers.
Its main onshore unit Hengda Real Estate Group announced the resolution of an onshore bond coupon payment on September 23 through “private negotiations”.
Evergrande shares opened sharply higher on Thursday, rising to 5.21% before turning the tide to collapse to 7.17%.
The stock ended down 4%.
“Regardless of how the debt is restructured, Evergrande shareholders and investors in USD-denominated offshore corporate bonds will suffer significant losses,” said Jing Sima, chief China strategist at BCA Research in a note.