China Evergrande Group on Friday dialed back plans to repay investors in its wealth management products – a move that highlights the deepening liquidity squeeze at the property developer that has failed to meet its offshore debt obligations.
Evergrande, whose $19 billion in international bonds are deemed to be in cross-default by rating agencies after the developer missed a deadline to pay coupons earlier this month, did not pay offshore coupons due this week.
The developer has been scrambling to raise cash by selling assets and shares to repay suppliers and creditors.
Evergrande said on Friday that each investor in its wealth management product could expect to receive 8,000 yuan ($1,257) per month as principal payment for three months starting this month irrespective of when the investment matures.
Once China’s top-selling developer and now reeling under more than $300bn in liabilities, Evergrande had earlier not mentioned any amount and had agreed to repay 10 per cent of the investment by the end of the month when the product matures.
It had also agreed to make follow-up payments to the wealth management product investors every three months afterwards, until the debt Evergrande owed to an investor is cleared, according to state media reports this year.
Evergrande said in a statement posted on the wealth unit’s website on Friday that the company would “actively raise funds”, and update the repayment plan in late March. The company did not elaborate.
The situation is not ideal, the statement said, as the development’s wealth unit tries to recover capital from the projects it invested in previously and, therefore, the original repayment plan was hard to implement.
Evergrande, in common with other heavily indebted conglomerates, had issued high-yielding wealth management products to investors – a popular way of borrowing from mom-and-pop investors that sidesteps government lending restrictions.
As the liquidity crisis deepened at Evergrande, the company’s wealth unit in late September missed a payment on one of its products, leading to protests by investors who fear they will never get their money back.
Some of its wealth investors had refused to accept the embattled company’s plan to provide payment with discounted apartments, offices, stores and parking units.