While Evergrande bondholders face deep haircuts in a restructuring that could take months or even years to resolve, there were few signs of financial contagion on Thursday. That’s partly because investors had been anticipating a default for months, but also thanks to a flurry of activity by China’s government to cushion the blow.
Policy makers have in recent weeks cut lenders’ reserve requirements, signaled an easing of real estate curbs and rolled out measures to ensure higher-rated developers retain access to funding. They’ve also taken a leading role in Evergrande’s restructuring, appointing officials from the developer’s home province to help oversee the process.
While that’s likely to help prevent nightmare scenarios of an uncontrolled Evergrande collapse, authorities have made it clear they have no intention of bailing out the property empire started by billionaire Hui Ka Yan 25 years ago. In a pre-recorded video message at a seminar in Hong Kong on Thursday, People’s Bank of China Governor Yi Gang described Evergrande’s situation as a market event that should be dealt with in a market-oriented way.
The Shenzhen-based developer, which disclosed more than $300 billion of total liabilities as of June, said in a brief exchange filing on Dec. 3 that it will “actively engage” with offshore creditors on a restructuring plan. But with Chinese authorities now calling the shots, the developer has stayed largely silent on details of what its restructuring might look like.
Even Fitch has struggled to get information from Evergrande, noting on Thursday that the developer didn’t respond to its request for confirmation on this week’s coupon payments. “We are therefore assuming they were not paid,” Fitch analysts wrote in a statement. Bloomberg reported earlier this week that bondholders hadn’t received the money.
The long-expected default of China Evergrande is now underway and was preceded by the Kaisa’s default. Aoyuan’s difficulties are now also making headlines. Against a background of sensationalist media coverage, the Chinese administration is making enough liquidity available to support the wider property sector. They are also engaging in a forensic audit of local government off balance sheet vehicles to find out just how big the problem is.Click HERE to subscribe to Fuller Treacy Money Back to top