How Beijing’s Debt Clampdown Shook the Foundation of a Real-Estate Colossus




The party has ended. Years of aggressive borrowing have collided with Beijing’s crackdown on debt, leaving the developer on the brink of collapse. Construction of Evergrande’s projects in many cities has stopped. The company has faced a litany of complaints and protests from suppliers, small investors and home buyers who sank their savings into properties the company promised to deliver.

Cash is so short that this summer, the developer said it began paying bills to contractors and suppliers with unfinished apartments instead of actual money. A paint supplier based in the southeastern province of Fujian said Evergrande recently paid off the equivalent of $34 million in bills with three unfinished properties, which the supplier is trying to sell. At a construction firm in Wuhan, more than 200 employees have been forced to take pay cuts because some of Evergrande’s bills are past due, a manager at the firm said,

Former and current employees say layoffs are adding up, and free meals that Evergrande used to provide for staffers at its headquarters have been canceled. In central China’s Hubei province, Evergrande has asked the local government to take over homeowners’ funds held in escrow accounts so they can’t be seized in legal disputes with creditors, according to people familiar with the matter.

Evergrande didn’t respond to requests for comment. The company said on Sept. 14 that its apartment sales have slowed markedly since June, its asset-disposal plans haven’t materialized, and it has hired financial advisers — a move that brings it closer to a potential debt restructuring.

Author(s): Xie Yu and Elaine Yu

Publication Date: 18 Sept 2021

Publication Site: WSJ

China’s Youthful, Debt-Fueled Spending Spree Sparks a Reckoning



Chinese regulators attempting to rein in Ant Group Co. and a swelling online-lending industry have a target in their sights: the excessive, debt-fueled lifestyles of the country’s youth.

Leading up to last year’s coronavirus pandemic, a new generation of tech-savvy and free-spending citizens helped power rising consumption, a growing driver of China’s economy.

Many used short-term loans to pay for expenses such as prestige cosmetics, electronic gadgets and costly restaurant meals. They found credit easy to obtain, thanks to Ant and other Chinese financial-technology companies that provided unsecured loans to millions of people who didn’t have bank-issued credit cards. In 2019, online loans accounted for as much as half of short-term consumer loans in China, according to estimates from Fitch Ratings.

Now, new financial regulations are forcing lenders to reassess their business strategies and have sparked a reckoning about the American-style borrowing and spending habits of China’s younger population. Starting in 2022, Ant and its peers will have to fund at least 30% of the loans they make together with banks, a rule designed to make online lenders bear more risk.

Author(s): Xie Yu

Publication Date: 13 March 2021

Publication Site: Wall Street Journal