Stock Groups

China Evergrande inches close to default deadline, investors wait By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO. A car drives by unfinished buildings in Evergrande Oasis housing development, Luoyang (China), September 16th, 2021. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins/File Photo

NEW YORK/HONG KONG (Reuters) – China Evergrande Group, once China’s top-selling property developer, inched closer to a key deadline where it risks a default on its bonds, but world markets were calmer as investors and analysts played down the threat of its troubles becoming the country’s “Lehman moment.”

Although markets were flooded Monday by concerns over the potential spillover effects of a chaotic collapse, U.S. stocks remained flat Tuesday. U.S. stocks remained stable while the dollar held steady. The U.S. market for corporate bonds also remained relatively stable.

Analysts at New York’s Bespoke expressed concern Tuesday about possible contagion following the collapse of Chinese property developer Evergrande. However, this concern has not yet been expressed in credit markets which have previously served as warning signs for larger credit crises.

Evergrande faces a significant test this week. The firm will pay $83.5million interest on the March 2022 bond. The firm has to make a further $47.5 million payment on September 29 for its March 2024 bonds.

If Evergrande does not settle interest in the due time, both bonds will default.

Bloomberg, reporting on Tuesday from people familiar with this matter, said that Evergrande failed to pay interest due Monday to at most two of its biggest bank creditors. Bloomberg stated that it was expected the missed payments would occur because China’s housing ministry said that Evergrande wouldn’t be able to make its due payments on time.

Investors and policymakers all over the globe tried to evaluate the possible fallout. Gary Gensler, Securities and Exchange Commission chair, stated that the U.S. is better able to absorb any global shock from major companies defaulting than before the financial crisis of 2007-2009.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell is likely to be asked questions regarding the Evergrande fallout after Wednesday’s Fed meeting. The Fed’s two-day meeting concludes on Wednesday at 2. ET. ET. (1800 GMT).

Some funds are increasing their position despite the imminent default. Morningstar data showed that Evergrande’s largest purchasers were BlackRock, a fund giant (NYSE:), and UBS and HSBC.

UBS Asset Management is another bondholder, as well as Amundi Asset Management (Europe’s top asset manager).

Evergrande will be unable to repay investors if it is subject to any default situation. The company, which could end up in chaos, managed collapse, or worse, Beijing bailout, may need to restructure its bonds. Analysts expect an extremely low rate of recovery.

S&P Global (NYSE:) Ratings said on Monday it believed the Chinese government would only act in the event of a far-reaching contagion posing systemic risks to the economy.

Samy Muaddi (portfolio manager for the $5.1billion T. Rowe Price Emerging Markets Bond Fund), said that Evergrande is a controlled and telegraphed detonation. He does not hold a stake in the company.

BNP Paribas (OTC:) estimated in a research note that less than $50 billion of Evergrande’s $300 billion outstanding debt is financed by bank loans, suggesting the Chinese banking sector will have a sufficient buffer to absorb potential bad debts.

Citigroup Inc (NYSE:) subsidiaries serve as trustee and payment agent for a China Evergrande bond that matures in March 2022 and has $83.5 million in interest coming due on Thursday.

Citigroup spokeswoman Danielle Romero Apsilos stated in an email Tuesday that they do not have direct lending exposure to Evergrande. However, their indirect exposure via counterparty credit risk was small with no significant concentration. She refused to discuss Evergrande’s payments.

In an effort to revive battered confidence in the firm, Evergrande Chairman Hui Ka said in a letter to staff that Evergrande will fulfil responsibilities to property buyers, investors, partners and financial institutions.

The stock, bond, and foreign exchange markets in China will reopen on Wednesday. Hong Kong’s financial markets won’t be open for trading due to the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Evergrande shares dropped as much as 7 percent on Tuesday. They had fallen 10% on Monday. Stock ended 0.4% lower.