China Evergrande Group was given another two more months by a Hong Kong court to come up with restructuring plan to stave off bankruptcy.
High Court Judge Linda Chan decided to adjourn the petition to liquidate Evergrande until January 29 after the property developer’s lawyers had argued that its creditors were not “actively seeking” to wind up the company. The decision came as a surprise to many because Judge Chan had warned Evergrande in late October that today’s hearing would be the last before she would reach a decision on winding up the company.
With total liabilities of $327 billion, Evergrande has come to embody the liquidity crisis that has spread across the country’s vast real estate industry, which accounts for 25% of China’s GDP. Since defaulting on its debt obligations in 2021, the property giant has been locked in negotiations with creditors and regulators to come up with a plan to restructure its offshore debt.
Analysts say that creditors are likely to get higher returns if Evergrande restructures its debt under new terms rather than engaging in a multiyear process of breaking up the property giant and selling off its assets in a depressed market.
The winding-up petition was filed 18 months ago by Samoa-based investor Top Shine Global after Evergrande failed to honor an agreement to repurchase shares in one of its units worth $110 million.
If Evergrande fails to convince the judge that it has a “concrete” debt restructuring plan, the company could be ordered into liquidation, which would increase pressure on a property sector that’s already reeling from high debts and a lack of liquidity.
Meanwhile, Evergrande said in late September that its chairman, Hui Ka Yan, had been placed under police surveillance on “suspicion of illegal crimes.” The statement didn’t provide further details. It’s a staggering reversal of fortune for a person who had been crowned Asia’s richest person in 2017, when his net worth stood at $42.5 billion. Forbes now estimates Hui’s wealth at $3.2 billion, a loss of 90% since then. The vast majority of his net worth is from Evergrande’s dividend payouts received over the years.
Evergrande’s stock had once hit a peak of HK$30.05 in October 2017, but now it trades as a penny stock at just HK$0.26 a share. Evergrande’s EV unit–touted as a key component of the group’s restructuring–followed a similar trajectory. It trades at HK$0.31 a share.
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