Evergrande halts share trading as woes mount for China’ property giant
Embattled Chinese property giant Evergrande has suspended share trading on the Hong Kong stock exchange only a month after it resumed trading after a 17-month suspension.
Trading in its two other units – the property services and electric vehicle groups – also stopped at 9am on Thursday, according to notices posted by the stock exchange.
The halt in trading comes a day after reports that the chair of Evergrande had been put under police surveillance. Hui Ka Yan, who founded Evergrande in 1996, was taken away earlier this month and is being monitored at a designated location, according to Bloomberg.
It is not clear why Hui might have been placed under residential surveillance, which falls short of a formal detention or police arrest and does not mean a criminal charge follows.
Evergrande had only resumed trading on 28 August after the company was suspended for 17 months for not publishing its financial results. Earlier this month, several employees of Evergrande’s wealth management unit were arrested in Shenzhen on unspecified charges.
Two former executives were also reportedly detained recently. Pan Darong and Xia Haijun had resigned last year after it emerged that 13.4bn yuan (£1.5bn) of deposits had been used as security for third-party loans.
Earlier this week, Hengda Real Estate, Evergrande’s primary unit in mainland China, missed principal and interest payments on a 4bn yuan bond. Hui resigned from his position as Hengda chair in 2021.
On Sunday, Evergrande said it was unable to issue new debt as Hengda was being investigated.
And on Friday it said meetings planned this week on a key debt restructuring plan would not take place, adding it was “necessary to reassess the terms” of the plan in order to suit the “objective situation and the demand of the creditors”.
China’s property sector is a key pillar of growth – along with construction, it accounts for about a quarter of GDP – and has experienced a dazzling boom in recent decades.
The massive debt accrued by the industry’s biggest players has, however, been seen by Beijing in recent years as an unacceptable risk for the financial system and overall economic health.
Authorities have gradually tightened developers’ access to credit since 2020 and a wave of defaults has followed – notably that of Evergrande.
Another Chinese property giant, Country Garden, narrowly avoided default in recent months, after reporting a record loss and debts of more than $150bn.
Agence France-Presse contributed to this report