China Evergrande, the troubled property giant, made a debt payment on at least two of its bonds on Wednesday, a company bondholder said, a sign that it may yet again manage to head off default.
Evergrande owes investors interest payments on three bonds, totaling nearly $150 million, with the grace periods for those payments set to expire on Wednesday. Missing them would trigger a default that could ripple through the Chinese economy: With some $300 billion in debt outstanding, the company’s inability to pay its debt would potentially hurt banks, property developers, and even home buyers in the country.
Instead, the company has managed to leap from one deadline to the next, meeting its obligations at the last minute — but often without explaining how or even publicly disclosing that it had done so. The company has tried to sell off parts of its empire to raise enough cash.
In October, when Evergrande said it had scrapped its effort to sell a $2.6 billion stake in its property services company to another developer, the company warned in a Hong Kong securities filing that there was “no guarantee” it would be able to meet its financial obligations or negotiate an extension with its creditors.
On Wednesday, the company met its interest payment deadline for bonds that mature in 2022 and 2023, the person said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the matter.
It was not immediately clear whether it had made payment on the third bond, which matures in 2024, or if all of the investors in the other two bonds had received payment.
The company didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Although Evergrande has managed to avoid default so far, its troubles have already begun to weigh on other Chinese developers, with the government tightening controls on borrowing and investors retreating from the sector.
At least six Chinese property developers have defaulted on foreign bonds in recent weeks, rattling domestic financial markets and raising the cost of borrowing for all Chinese companies. Property prices are slowing and fewer people are buying apartments, worsening the outlook for real estate.
Evergrande’s challenges could spread outside of China as well, as they ripple through global financial markets. On Monday, the Federal Reserve said troubles in China’s property sector could threaten the United States.
“Given the size of China’s economy and financial system as well as its extensive trade linkages with the rest of the world, financial stresses in China could strain global financial markets through a deterioration of risk sentiment, pose risks to global economic growth, and affect the United States,” the Fed said in its twice-yearly update on the American financial system.
Alexandra Stevenson contributed reporting.