Country Garden misses bond payments as China property fears flare

By Clare Jim

HONG KONG (Reuters) -Country Garden said on Tuesday it has not paid two dollar bond coupons due on Aug. 6, confirming market fears that the biggest privately owned developer in China is slipping into repayment troubles.

The bonds in question are notes due on Feb 2026 and Aug 2030, both with 30-day grace periods, investors said, citing prospectuses. The coupons were worth a total of $22.5 million.

China’s giant property sector has seen a string of debt defaults by cash-squeezed developers since late 2021, with China Evergrande Group, the world’s most indebted property developer, at the centre of the crisis.

Country Garden, which had total liabilities of 1.4 trillion yuan ($194 billion) as of end-2022, told Reuters in a statement its usable cash had declined due to a deterioration in the sales and refinancing environment, and the impact from various fund regulations.

Stocks and bonds of the Guangdong province-based company, ranked third by national sales this year, have faced selloff pressure in the past few weeks as liquidity concerns resurfaced.

One of the firm’s onshore bonds was temporarily suspended from trading in Shenzhen after plunging 28.6% in the morning. Its Jan 2024 dollar bonds were traded at 18.331 cents on the dollar, according to Duration Finance, down from 25 cents on Monday.

Its Hong Kong-listed shares shed 15% as of 0708 GMT.

Last week, Country Garden aborted a $300 million share placement at the last minute saying it had not reached a ‘final agreement’ for the deal to go ahead.

The home builder also warned last week that it would post an unaudited net loss for six months ending June 30, compared with a net profit of 1,910 million yuan ($267 million) a year earlier.

($1 = 7.2117 Chinese yuan renminbi)

(Reporting by Clare Jim; additional reporting by Jason Xue in Shanghai; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman, Kim Coghill and Lincoln Feast.)

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