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February 26, 2024

Evergrande Ordered to Liquidate Assets, Raising Fears of Wider Economic Impacts

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Feb 3, 2024

A Hong Kong court has ordered the liquidation of China’s most indebted property developer, Evergrande Group, in a move that could have significant repercussions across China’s real estate sector and economy.

Background on Evergrande’s Financial Troubles

Evergrande has been struggling under the weight of over $300 billion in liabilities for months, missing payments to bondholders and suppliers while incomplete housing projects stalled across China. The company aggressively borrowed for years to finance rapid growth and expansion. But tightened lending rules for developers and a government crackdown on speculation and high debt levels left Evergrande short of the new loans needed to keep the business afloat [1].

By January 2023, Evergrande had defaulted on $19.2 billion of dollar bonds. The company warned that it may not be able to meet its financial obligations, raising fears of contagion across China’s property sector if a disorderly collapse occurred [2].

Month Key Event
Sept 2021 Evergrande warns of cash flow issues, missing payments to suppliers and creditors
Dec 2021 Evergrande declared in default on offshore bonds after missing payment deadline
Jan 2023 Evergrande says may not be able to meet financial obligations, defaulted on $19.2 billion in dollar bonds

Attempts were made to restructure the company and reach deals with creditors, but with over $300 billion in total liabilities, Evergrande remained severely distressed [3].

Hong Kong Court Orders Liquidation

On January 29th, 2024 a Hong Kong court ordered that Evergrande be wound up and liquidated after reviewing a winding-up petition against the developer. The petition was submitted in March 2023 by an offshore creditor over unpaid dues [4].

Evergrande must now begin liquidating its assets and using any proceeds to repay creditors. Trading of Evergrande shares in Hong Kong has been suspended pending results of the liquidation [5].

Analysts say offshore creditors like the petitioner may only receive minimal payouts from liquidated assets that are located abroad. Most of Evergrande’s assets are in mainland China, putting them potentially beyond reach [6].

Broader Economic Impacts

The court-ordered liquidation of Evergrande raises fears of knock-on impacts across China’s fragile real estate sector. Evergrande is China’s second largest property developer, with over 1,300 developments in 280 cities [7]. Its failure symbolizes deep financial instability plaguing the industry.

China’s property sector has been mired in a prolonged downturn, with slumping sales, land auction failures, and debt contagion worries. At least one other major developer, Shimao Group Holdings, defaulted on a trust loan in January [8].

Metric 2022 Percent Change
Property Investment -10%
Residential Sales -23%
Land Sales Revenue -28%

This weakness in property filters through to other areas of China’s economy. Real estate and related industries account for ~30% of China’s GDP [9].

The IMF estimates China’s GDP growth fell to 3% in 2022 and will decline again in 2023. They identify the property slump as a primary driver of slowing domestic demand [10].

With Evergrande now set to liquidate, analysts say there is little optimism of a turnaround for the industry in 2024 [11]. More developer failures are expected without state intervention, further weighing on economic growth.

“Evergrande’s collapse symbolizes the end of an era of unrestrained borrowing and expansion in Chinese real estate,” said Professor Gan Li of Chengdu’s Southwestern University of Finance and Economics . “The industry must deleverage and rightsize”.

What Happens Next

The full impacts of Evergrande’s unraveling remain uncertain and dependent on how the government responds. But most analysts say this liquidation doesn’t pose systemic risks on the level of a “China’s Lehman Brothers” [12][13].

Beijing has tools to contain financial contagion, ease industry liquidity strains, and stimulate growth to cushion the economy. But policymakers are also balancing those interventions with overarching goals to curb speculation and debt risks [14].

That delicate balancing act means authorities may allow select failures while trying to ensure an orderly descent for the overstretched property sector [15].

Economists will be monitoring liquidation proceedings and industry data for signs of cascading fallout. “How Beijing navigates these property sector challenges in 2024 could determine whether we see a managed slowdown or harder landing,” said Long Chen, Economics Professor at Nanjing University.

With Evergrande now unwinding, all eyes turn to policymakers on whether they can engineer that soft landing.

References

  1. Explainer: What happens next after China Evergrande ordered to liquidate?
  2. Evergrande bond holders could wait years for little payout: ratings agency
  3. Evergrande shares halted in Hong Kong as court orders liquidation
  4. Enough is enough’: With $300 billion in debt, court says it’s time to liquidate China’s Evergrande
  5. Hong Kong Market Falls in Mixed Asian Trading; China Property Stocks Drop
  6. Evergrande liquidation to leave little for creditors to claim: S&P
  7. Evergrande’s fiscal fiasco
  8. Collapse of China’s Evergrande a sign of an economic model reaching its limits
  9. Questions swirl over Evergande liquidatation
  10. The property downturn stokes fears about commodities demand in 2024
  11. Evergrande’s bond traders learned a twisted lesson from its fall
  12. Is China’s property crisis its ‘Lehman moment’?
  13. Evergrande Is a Harbinger of Deepening Crises in China
  14. China’s Evergrande Ordered to Liquidate: What Happens Next?
  15. The Evergrande wind signals sunset for ‘too big to fail’ in China
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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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