China’s second-largest property developer, China Evergrande, appears to have averted default with a last-minute bond payment.
Evergrande settled a bond debt of $83.5 million at the last minute on Oct. 22. However, many other obligations are due. The most pressing of which is due on Oct. 29. As a result, markets throughout the world are concerned and keeping a close eye on the situation.
Despite the encouraging repayment news and the firm’s bond price continuing to rise in the secondary market, Evergrande’s share price continued to decrease, suggesting concerns about the company’s future repayment capacity.
Before the deadline for paying interest on bonds issued in USD on Saturday, Oct. 23, Evergande deposited $83.5 million into a Citibank trust account on Thursday, Oct. 21, a source told Reuters.
That has brought relief to investors and regulators and further reassurance from Chinese officials that creditors will be protected.
However, the world’s most indebted real estate company—more than $300 billion in debt—needs to pay off another set of bonds, with the next major deadline to avoid default on Oct. 29.
With little information on solvency and real estate sales down 30% in the past 12 months, there are still doubts about Evergrande’s ability to weather the crisis.
Once China’s best-selling property developer, Evergrande did not respond to a request for comment on the debt settlement.
Citibank declined to comment on questions from Reuters.
On Friday, Evergrande President Xu Jiayin said the company would aim to make its new electric vehicle its main business instead of real estate within ten years.
By that time, real estate sales would have fallen to about $31.31 billion a year, from more than $110 billion last year, the state-backed Securities Times quoted Xu as saying.
Evergrande’s new electric vehicle business, founded in 2019, has yet to reveal a model to make or sell a single vehicle. Last month, the unit warned that it was still looking for new investors and selling properties, and if it didn’t, it could have trouble paying salaries and other expenses.
Evergrande, next, will need to earn $47.5 million on Oct. 29 and nearly $338 million on other overseas bond payments due in November and December.
John Han, a partner at law firm Kobre&Kim in Hong Kong, said: “While positive, the bond settlement does not address the overall concerns about the sustainability of liquidity for Evergrande until its first maturity in Q2, 2022 and beyond.”
“This shows that the company is not yet ready to collapse through a series of cross-breach completely.” However, he added that it is necessary to plan for what happens next in the near term.
If the company doesn’t make payments next week or any other deadline in the coming weeks, all of its $19 billion in bonds will default on international capital markets.
That would be the emerging market’s second-biggest corporate default after Venezuela’s state-owned oil company.
Evergrande defaulted on bond payments totaling nearly $280 million on the company’s USD bonds on Sept. 23, Sept. 29, and Oct. 11. The grace period is thirty days for each bond.