Chinese developer Evergrande shares plunge 70 per cent

Chinese developer Evergrande shares plunge 70 per cent
Evergrande Group, the world's most indebted real estate developer, has reported a significant narrowing in its net losses for the first half of the year, thanks to a rise in revenue because of a "short boom" earlier this year.
But the Chinese property giant's stock still plunged more than 70 per cent on Monday when it resumed trading in Hong Kong following a 17-month suspension, even as shares in most Chinese property firms traded higher after a series of weekend announcements by officials aimed at boosting demand for property.

For years, the Shenzhen-based company was one of China's largest property developers by sales. But it had borrowed heavily to fund its expansion and defaulted on its debt in 2021, sparking a crisis in China's real estate sector, which once accounted for as much as 30 per cent of the country's economy. Earlier this month, it applied for bankruptcy in the United States.

Shares in Chinese property giant Evergrande plunged more than 70 per cent on Monday when it resumed trading in Hong Kong following a 17-month suspension. (Getty)

Investors are closely watching its progress because of the key role it has played in China's current economic woes.

Evergrande's loss attributable to shareholders amounted to AUD$7 billion for the January to June period, a 50 per cent drop from the AUD$14 billion loss recorded in the same period a year ago, it said in a Sunday filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange. Revenue surged 44 per cent from a year ago, reaching AUD$27 billion.

The company said it had "actively planned for the resumption of sales and successfully seized the short boom of the property market that emerged at the beginning of the year."

The Chinese economy enjoyed a strong start to the year, thanks to a post-opening recovery after the country scrapped its strict COVID-19 restrictions. But that rebound has faded since April.

Evergrande incurred a combined loss of AUD$125 billion during 2021 and 2022, according to a long overdue financial report posted last month.

Its challenges are not over. Evergrande was still laden with liabilities worth AUD$500 billion at the end of June. That's just slightly lower in total liabilities it reported at the end of last year.

The China's real estate sector once accounted for as much as 30 per cent of the country's economy. (AP)

Its total assets also declined to AUD$371 billion from AUD$393 billion.

Evergrande is undergoing a government-guided debt restructuring, which kicked off in late 2021 shortly after it defaulted on its debt.

In March this year, it unveiled a multi-billion dollar plan to make peace with its international creditors but said it needed additional financing of AUD$56 billion to AUD$68 billion to complete unfinished property projects.

In Sunday's filing, Evergrande said it had already obtained new financing for certain projects and will continue to seek additional capital.

But the company's ability to continue as a going concern still depends on whether it can successfully complete the offshore debt restructuring plan, it said.

It also needs to negotiate with onshore lenders on the extension of the company's borrowings, it added.

There is concern in China the ailing property sector could impact the country's wider economy. (AP)

Relaxation of rules

Since Friday, Beijing has once again stepped up policy support to bolster the real estate sector, which has been a major drag on the country's economy.

Five Chinese regulators — including the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, the People's Bank of China and the State Taxation Administration — separately announced a series of moves to boost home buying and revive the troubled industry.

The measures include allowing local governments to scrap a rule that disqualifies people who have held previous mortgages from being considered first-time homebuyers in major cities. Such homebuyers generally enjoy preferential treatment in bank lending.

"This mortgage easing measure will likely unleash upgrading demand in big cities," said Nomura analysts.

"We believe many cities … will lift the rule, given the current risk of a nationwide property collapse."

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The housing and tax authorities also jointly said on Friday they would extend personal income tax rebates for people who buy new homes within one year after selling previous properties.

Most Chinese property developers listed on Hong Kong's stock market appeared to have received a boost from the move.

On Monday, Country Garden jumped 2.5 per cent in Hong Kong. Guangzhou R&F Properties surged nearly 4 per cent.

However, Nomura analysts said the measures announced over the past few days were not enough to "stem the downward spiral" in China's property sector.

Beijing could be compelled to take more measures, including lowering deposit rates and mortgage rates further, and providing funding to support the renovation of urban villages, they added.