Mar 13, 2023
A Look at Evergrande’s Restructuring Scenarios as Key Date Looms
(Bloomberg) -- The clock is ticking for China Evergrande Group to announce a detailed debt restructuring plan.
The defaulted developer at the center of China’s broader property debt crisis faces a March 20 court hearing in Hong Kong on a winding-up petition. The judge had urged the firm last year to present “something more concrete” at the gathering.
That’s putting attention on the scenarios for how one of China’s biggest-ever restructurings may move ahead in the coming week. Here’s a look at some of the ways things could go down:
Evergrande Could Unveil More Details
The company has said it wanted to get support from the noteholders by early March. As negotiations between Evergrande and major creditors continue, the developer could put forward some kind of statement summarizing areas of agreement.
Any detailed restructuring plan could lead to “some knee-jerk reaction of distressed high-yield property bonds trading higher,” as long as investors didn’t find the details alarming, according to Nicholas Chen, credit analyst at CreditSights. “But we don’t see a sustained rally of the sector given the still weak contracted sales and waning investor interest.”
A Detailed Plan Could Help Pave Way to Adjournment
If the company demonstrated that it’s pushing the talks forward and if the ad-hoc group of creditors with which it’s negotiating expresses support, it’s possible that the March 20 hearing could lead to an adjournment. That could happen even if a comprehensive agreement has yet to be reached.
Such an outcome would buy all parties more time to keep negotiating on sticking points.
There would be precedent for this, too.
In one of the previous hearings last year, the ad-hoc group had asked for adjournment and opposed the winding-up petition because it considered that it had a better chance of getting paid with a restructuring plan.
Proceedings were already adjourned several times last year.
On The Other Hand, If No More Details Came
Things would be less straightforward if Evergrande didn’t unveil any more details.
The court in Hong Kong would then have to decide if other signs, including the position of the ad-hoc group, point to enough progress to warrant another adjournment.
Patience, though, could be running thin. The developer has previously failed to meet timelines it had set out regarding the restructuring plan.
The firm failed to deliver a preliminary restructuring plan for its offshore debt that it had promised by the end of July last year, and said then it would try to announce a specific plan within 2022. But the new year came without Evergrande releasing that.
Risks of Winding-Up Order
If there were no more details from Evergrande on its plan in the next week, and if the ad-hoc creditor group didn’t show support for continuing talks or if it joined in support of the winding-up petition, that could increase the risk of the company being ordered to wind up.
It’s often in the interests of both the borrower and creditors to avoid such an outcome, given it can mean greater losses for all and would result in both sides losing control of the restructuring process. Liquidation of a firm’s assets is a possibility in such matters.
If a winding-up order were issued, a provisional liquidator would be appointed that takes control of the debtor’s assets which are then disposed of, according to an explanation posted on the Official Receiver’s Office website. Any remaining funds after fees and expenses are distributed to creditors whose claims have been admitted.
Any such development with Evergrande could have broad implications for China’s $60 trillion financial system.
Winding-up orders have been rare amid China’s property crisis, but not unheard of. Last year brought landmark cases in the Hong Kong courts, even though with smaller developers.
In October, Yango Justice International Ltd., which defaulted on offshore debt, was ordered to wind up. The firm is a unit of Yango Group Co., and the case was the first such instance against a major builder during the country’s property-debt crisis.
A similar order to wind up Sinic Holdings Group Co. followed in December.
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