Embattled developer China Evergrande Group (3333.HK) has filed for U.S. bankruptcy protection as part of one of the world’s biggest debt restructurings, as anxiety grows over China’s worsening property crisis and its impact on the weakening economy.
China unexpectedly lowered several key interest rates earlier this week in a bid to shore up struggling activity and is expected to cut prime loan rates on Monday, but analysts say moves so far have been too little, too late, with much more forceful measures needed to stem the economy’s downward spiral.
Once China’s top-selling developer, Evergrande has become the poster child of an unprecedented debt crisis in the country’s property sector, which accounts for roughly a quarter of the economy, after facing a liquidity crunch in mid-2021.
The developer has sought protection under Chapter 15 of the U.S. bankruptcy code, which shields non-U.S. companies that are undergoing restructurings from creditors that hope to sue them or tie up assets in the United States.
While the step is seen as procedural, it indicates that the company is nearing the end of its restructuring process after more than one and a half years of negotiations with creditors.
Evergrande said in a filing on Friday that it will ask the U.S. court for recognition of schemes of arrangement under the offshore debt restructuring for Hong Kong and the British Virgin Islands as its dollar notes are governed by New York law.
“The application is a normal procedure for the offshore debt restructuring and does not involve (a) bankruptcy petition,” it said in the filing, adding it is pushing forward with its offshore debt restructuring.
The company proposed scheduling a Chapter 15 recognition hearing for Sept. 20.
Evergrande’s offshore debt restructuring involves a total of $31.7 billion, which include bonds, collateral and repurchase obligations. It will meet with creditors later this month on its restructuring proposal.
A string of Chinese property developers have defaulted on their offshore debt obligations since Evergrande ran into trouble, leaving unfinished homes and unpaid suppliers, shattering consumer confidence in the world’s second-largest economy. Property investment, sales and new construction starts have been contracting for over a year.
The property crisis has also fanned worries about contagion risks to the financial system, which could have a destabilising impact on an economy already weakened by tepid domestic and foreign demand, faltering factory activity and rising unemployment.
A major Chinese asset manager has missed repayment obligations on some investment products and warned of a liquidity crisis, while Country Garden (2007.HK), the country’s No.1 private developer, has become the latest to flag a stifling cash crunch.
Source : Reuters