Evergrande to make domestic bond coupon payment, soothing fears

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

China Evergrande Group's main unit said on Wednesday it would make a coupon payment on its domestic bonds on September 23, offering some relief to jittery markets that had been on edge over fears that a default of China's number two developer could ripple through the global financial system.

Hengda Real Estate Group said in a statement it would make the coupon payment on its Shenzhen-traded 5.8 percent September 2025 bond on time on September 23.

The announcement comes as Evergrande, once the country's top-selling developer, inches closer to a key deadline for an interest payment on a dollar bond, with financial markets tense even as investors and analysts played down the threat of its troubles becoming the country's "Lehman moment."

Hengda Real Estate's coupon payment totals 232 million yuan (HK$279 million), according to Refinitiv data.

"We are still trying to understand what this payment means for the other bonds but I imagine they would want to stabilise the market and make other coupon payments, given the close scrutiny," said a source familiar with the situation who declined to be identified as they are not authorised to speak to the media.

US stock futures, the yuan and the risk-sensitive Australian dollar rose, while safe-haven assets such as the yen and US Treasuries slipped.

Evergrande is set to make its onshore bond payment on time, but the developer has not indicated whether it will be able to pay $83.5 million in interest due on its March 2022 bond on Thursday. It has another $47.5 million payment due on September 29 for March 2024 notes.

Both bonds would default if Evergrande fails to settle the interest within 30 days of the scheduled payment dates.

Trade in Evergrande's onshore exchange-traded bonds has been halted since September 16, when Hengda Real Estate applied to suspend trading for a day. While trading technically resumed on September 17, it now only takes place through negotiated transactions in what traders said was an attempt to curb volatility.

While concerns about the spillover from a messy collapse roiled markets on Monday, US stocks were flat on Tuesday and Chinese shares fell in early trade after a two-day public holiday. But China's property index recovered losses and was up more than 3 percent, while banking stocks were down around 3 percent.

Evergrande is so deeply intertwined with China's broader economy -- from retail investors to infrastructure-related firms that are a gauge for global commodities demand -- that fears over contagion have kept financial markets on tenterhooks.

"There's been a fair bit of concern about the possibility of contagion," analysts at New York-based Bespoke wrote in a research note on Tuesday. "But so far that concern isn't showing up in parts of the credit markets that have served well as red flags for broader credit crunches in the past."

Evergrande missed interest payments due Monday to at least two of its largest bank creditors, Bloomberg reported  on Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter. The missed payments had been expected as China's housing ministry had said that the company would be unable to pay on time, Bloomberg said.

As investors and policymakers around the world tried to assess the potential fallout, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chair Gary Gensler said the US market is in a better position to absorb a potential global shock from a major company default than it was before the 2007-2009 financial crisis.

(Reuters)