'Living dead' Evergrande not out of woods despite rushed payment, say analysts

Shares of the firm advanced as much as 7.8 per cent in Hong Kong after the developer wired US$83.5 million (S$112.5 million) in a bond coupon payment. PHOTO: AFP

HONG KONG (BLOOMBERG) - China Evergrande Group's payment of interest on a US dollar bond is positive news for debt holders, but uncertainties remain on whether the distressed developer can secure cash for other looming repayments, according to analysts.

Shares of the firm advanced as much as 7.8 per cent in Hong Kong after the developer wired US$83.5 million (S$112.5 million) in a bond coupon payment ahead of this weekend's deadline. Still, Evergrande needs to pay interest on another four US dollar notes this year and has a hefty wall of maturing debt next year.

"We have seen this before," said Justin Tang, head of Asian research at United First Partners in Singapore, referring to Evergrande's interest payment. This "does not solve the company's problem, and does not change the fact that it is the living dead."

Here's what other analysts are saying:

Jun Rong Yeap, IG Asia

"It brings some near-term reprieve ahead of its official default deadline and presents a more positive scenario than what many will have expect"

"The plunge in share price yesterday seems to price in expectations that Evergrande will face difficulty in securing cash ahead with the sales deal fall-through," but the interest payment report "just overturned that narrative for now"

Banny Lam, Ceb International Inv. Corp.

"It is positive for dollar bond holders. However uncertainties remain if the group can sell assets to pay for the offshore debt. Investors are watching if Evergrande can make agreement with creditors on how to settle the debt"

"The interest payment today only occupies a small portion of total interest payment. Investors are more interested to watch the progress of Evergrande's debt restructuring, especially sales of valuable assets"

Ting Meng, ANZ Banking Group

The possibility of meeting the next coupon payment with a 30-day grace period due next Friday has risen. "We could see a rebound in the property sector in the short term"

"Evergrande has larger principal repayments next March, which is a critical date to watch closely. It needs to accelerate asset selling to meet that critical deadline"

Omotunde Lawal, Barings

The relief that Evergrande has averted a default "was in line with government comments" and "buys the group more time to seek further asset sales and solutions for the medium to longer term"

Chang Wei Liang, DBS Bank

"The bringing forward of debt restructuring is unfavoured by large developers like Evergrande, with valuable offshore assets that can be subject to legal enforcement or with a storied reputation to maintain." They are likely to "keep up their obligations as best as they can to avoid default"

Derek Tay, Kamet Capital Partners

"Its debt woes will still linger especially since its asset sales efforts to raise funds or deleverage haven't been quite successful, as would-be buyers calling off purchases/negotiations are simply just waiting for better prices."

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