Chinese developer asking bondholders to postpone repayment

Finance and Business

FILE – Residents pass near the headquarters for Evergrande in Shenzhen in southern China, Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021. The troubled Chinese real estate developer with $310 billion of debt is asking investors in one of its bonds to postpone when they will be repaid. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File)

BEIJING (AP) — A troubled Chinese real estate developer with $310 billion of debt is asking investors in one of its bonds to postpone when they will be repaid.

Evergrande Group will conduct a three-day online vote starting Friday for holders of the 4.5 billion yuan ($700 million) bond, according to an announcement made through the Shenzhen Stock Exchange in southern China.

Evergrande, the global real estate industry’s most indebted competitor, said the bond is due to mature in January 2023. It gave no indication how long investors would be asked to postpone repayment.

The company’s struggle to avoid defaults while it tries to comply with tighter official limits on borrowing by China’s real estate industry has prompted fears of a financial crisis. Chinese regulators have tried to reassure investors the impact of any possible default can be contained.

Evergrande says it has 2.3 trillion yuan ($350 billion) in assets and 2 trillion yuan ($310 billion in debt), but it is struggling to sell real estate and other assets fast enough to keep up payments to bondholders and other creditors.

Beijing appears to be trying to avoid bailing out Evergrande to avoid sending the companies as the ruling Communist Party tries to force them to reduce their debt loads.

Beijing tightened restrictions on developers last year in a campaign to rein in surging corporate debt that is seen as a threat to economic stability. The ruling party has made reducing financial risk a priority since 2018.

Smaller developers have gone bankrupt or defaulted on hundreds of millions of dollars in bonds.

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