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Raising Capital to Settle Debts: China’s Largest Homebuilder

The embattled Chinese homebuilder Country Garden said on Wednesday it planned to raise $34 million by issuing new shares, its latest effort to get a handle on its debt problems and contain a deepening property crisis that is weighing on China’s economy.

In a filing with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, Country Garden said it planned to issue 350.6 million shares of the company at 77 Hong Kong cents apiece next Wednesday. The proceeds will not go to the company. Instead, they will go to a subsidiary of Hong Kong-based Kingboard Holdings Limited, a materials and chemicals manufacturers with a property division to which Country Garden owes millions of dollars.

Country Garden, China’s biggest property developer, is selling the shares at a 15 percent discount to Tuesday’s closing price. It is teetering on the brink of default after missing two interest payments earlier this month. The company has until next week to repay the offshore bondholders or it will be in default to creditors.

The financial trouble facing Country Garden is the latest fallout from a rapidly spreading real estate crisis in China.

As of 2022, Country Garden had roughly $190 billion in liabilities. Over the last few years, several dozen Chinese property developers, including some of the sector’s biggest names, have defaulted under the weight of debt built up over years of excessive borrowing.

Country Garden had managed to avoid that fate, but a sharp downturn in sales starting a few months ago exacerbated its financial problems. In addition to the missed interest payments, the company is negotiating with creditors to delay repayment of a Chinese bond, due later this week, until 2026.

It said it still owed the Kingboard Holdings subsidiary around $200 million, to be paid in installments, with the final payment due in December. The new shares in Country Garden represent 1.27 percent of the company’s existing shares.

Later on Wednesday, the company is expected to post results for the first six months of 2023. It warned earlier this month that it expected to post a loss of between $6.2 billion and $7.5 billion for those months, citing an “unprecedented difficult period” for China’s property industry.

Shares in the company have fallen 67 percent this year.

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