Country Garden secures bondholder reprieve, sources say; shares soar

SHANGHAI/BEIJING (Reuters) -China’s largest private property developer Country Garden won approval from its creditors to extend repayments on six onshore bonds by three years, two sources familiar with the matter said on Tuesday, sending shares up as much as 10%.

The bondholder reprieve came as investors are closely monitoring whether China’s latest government stimulus measures including lowering existing mortgage rates and offering preferential loans for first-home purchases in big cities might be enough to restore consumer confidence and sow the seeds for an eventual property market recovery.

Country Garden’s onshore creditors voted on Monday for proposals by the distressed developer to extend repayments on eight onshore bonds worth 10.8 billion yuan ($1.48 billion) by three years, sources said, marking the latest relief to China’s crisis-hit property sector.

In the voting, which concluded by 10 p.m. Hong Kong time (1400 GMT) on Monday, creditors approved extending six out of the eight bonds, the two sources said.

The other two bonds will see voting delayed, the two sources said, asking not to be named because they were not authorised to speak with media.

Country Garden did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

The company’s Hong Kong-listed shares surged after the news but are down nearly 60% since the start of the year. The broader Hang Seng Mainland Properties Index also reversed earlier losses and was up by 0.75%.

The latest voting came after Country Garden on Sept. 1 gained approval from creditors to extend payments by three years for a 3.9 billion yuan ($533 million)onshore private bond.

It also made a last-minute dollar coupon payment offshore last week to avoid a immediate default.

Country Garden, one of the few large Chinese developers that has not defaulted on debt obligations, has faced liquidity pressure with reduced available funds as sales plunged, its interim financial statements showed.

It has 108.7 billion yuan ($14.9 billion) of debts due within 12 months, while its cash level are around 101.1 billion yuan as of end-June, according to the company’s interim financial statement.

In the offshore bond market, Country Garden has at least five coupon payments due this month, including two relatively sizable dollar bond coupons worth $15 million due on Sept. 17, and $40 million on Sept. 27, each with a 30-day grace period.

Any default by Country Garden would exacerbate the country’s spiralling real estate crisis, put more strain on its struggling banks and could delay the recovery of not only the property market, but the overall Chinese economy.

(Reporting by Shuyan Wang in Beijing, Jing Bian in Shanghai and Xie Yu in Hong Kong; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Jamie Freed)