China developers' bonds, shares hit again by Evergrande contagion worries

Evergrande did not pay nearly US$150 million (S$203 million) worth of coupons on three bonds due on Monday. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

SHANGHAI (REUTERS) - Shares and bonds of Chinese property companies fell further on Wednesday (Oct 13) after Evergrande Group missed a third round of interest payments on its US dollar bonds in three weeks, and as others warned of defaults.

In the clearest sign yet of global investors' worries of spreading debt contagion, the option-adjusted spread on the ICE BofA Asian Dollar High Yield Corporate China Issuers Index surged to a fresh all-time high of 2,337 basis points on Tuesday evening (US time).

On Wednesday morning, Shanghai Stock Exchange data showed onshore bonds issued by developers Shanghai Shimao and Country Garden Properties Group were among the biggest losers on the day, falling between 1 per cent and 4.2 per cent.

A sub-index tracking A-shares of property firms fell 1.58 per cent against a 0.31 per cent rise in the blue-chip CSI300 index .

Markets in Hong Kong were closed on Wednesday morning due to a typhoon affecting the city.

Evergrande did not pay nearly US$150 million (S$203 million) worth of coupons on three bonds due on Monday, following two other missed payments in September.

While the company has not technically defaulted on those payments, which have 30-day grace periods, investors say they are expecting a long and drawn-out debt restructuring process.

The company's main unit, Hengda Real Estate Group, faces a 121.8 million yuan (S$25.6 million) onshore bond coupon payment on Oct 19 and Evergrande has another US$14.25 million dollar bond coupon due on Oct 30.

Debt pressures extend far beyond Evergrande.

Chinese property developers have US$555.88 million worth of high-yield dollar bond coupons due this month, and nearly US$1.6 billion due before the year end, and Refinitiv data shows at least US$92.3 billion worth of Chinese property developers' bonds maturing next year.

Evergrande's mid-sized rival Fantasia has also already missed a payment and Modern Land and Sinic Holdings are trying to delay payment deadlines that would still most likely be classed as a default by the main rating agencies.

"These stories have challenged the notion that Evergrande is one of a kind," analysts at Capital Economics wrote in a note.

While China's policymakers will likely be able to avoid a "doomsday scenario", the overextended property sector will continue to weigh on the world's second-largest economy, they said.

"Even following an orderly restructuring of the worst-affected developers with minimal contagion to the financial system, construction activity would still almost inevitably slow much further."

The International Monetary Fund said on Tuesday that China has the ability to address the issues linked to Evergrande's indebtedness, but warned that an escalation of the situation could lead to the emergence of broader financial stress.

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