China’s property crisis spreads as another developer misses a payment on its wealth products

November 5, 2021, 7:46 AM UTC

Kaisa Group Holdings Ltd. and its Hong Kong-listed units were suspended from trading on Friday morning, a day after the Chinese developer flagged liquidity pressure and said it missed payments on wealth products it guaranteed.

The developer said stock trading was halted pending an announcement containing inside information. Its property management arm Kaisa Prosperity Holdings Ltd., health operation Kaisa Health Group Holdings Ltd. and construction equipment provider Kaisa Capital Investment Holdings Ltd. were also suspended, pending inside information of their controlling shareholder, according to filings at the noon break. 

Kaisa’s shares and bonds tumbled Thursday after the company said it has faced “unprecedented pressure on its liquidity” due to unfavorable factors such as credit rating downgrades and a challenging property market environment. The missed payments on wealth management products come about two months after China Evergrande Group faced protests from investors demanding money on similar overdue offerings. 

Chinese developers are facing an intensifying cash crunch following a government campaign to reduce leverage in the industry. That’s been made worse by a slump in home sales and prices as sentiment among homebuyers weakens. A bond sell-off is making it prohibitively expensive for the nation’s builders to refinance maturing debt. 

“Kaisa’s non-payment of a guaranteed wealth management product may exacerbate the sector’s crisis,” Andrew Chan, a Bloomberg Intelligence analyst, wrote in a note. It “suggests investors need to be aware not only of upcoming public debt payments but of obligations such as WMPs which may not be widely known.”

Kaisa is “making all efforts” to resolve its liquidity problem such as by speeding up asset sales, it said in the statement Thursday. The company is seeking buyers for assets including Kaisa Prosperity, but no clear candidates had emerged, Reuters reported last week.

Kaisa became a focus of investor concern after it canceled meetings with investors in October, triggering doubts about its liquidity and sending its dollar bonds lower. Downgrades by both S&P Global Ratings and Fitch Ratings a few days later caused a fresh sell-off in the developer’s shares, which have tumbled more than 70% this year. 

Kaisa’s dollar bonds stabilized on Friday morning after the previous day’s plunge. Its 6.5% note due Dec. 7 rose 0.5 cent to 45.8 cents, according to Bloomberg-compiled data. Its shares dropped 15% on Thursday to the lowest price since its 2009 listing.

Kaisa Group also holds 43% of Kaisa Health. The developer’s founding Chairman Kwok Ying Shing and his family hold about 25% of Kaisa and 57% of equipment firm Kaisa Capital. 

The first Chinese builder to default on dollar bonds, Kaisa completed a debt restructuring in 2016. Since then, it has grown to become China’s third-largest dollar debt borrower among developers with more than $11 billion of bonds outstanding in the currency. It ranked as China’s 27th-biggest property developer by sales last month. 

In addition to Kaisa’s $400 million note due next month, it has $2.8 billion of dollar bonds maturing in 2022, according to Bloomberg data. It’s scheduled to pay an interim dividend of 4 Hong Kong cents per share on Dec. 17, which would cost the company about HK$281 million.

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