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Chinese developer asks bondholders to postpone repayment

BEIJING (AP) – A troubled Chinese real estate developer with USD310 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 tomorrow for holders of the CNY4.5 billion yuan (USD700 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 said it has CNY2.3 trillion (USD350 billion) in assets and CNY2 trillion (USD310 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.

Headquarters for Evergrande in Shenzhen in southern China. PHOTO: AP