China's Kaisa struggles for relief from bond holders as default risk looms

BY Reuters | CORPORATE | 12/01/21 11:03 PM EST

By Scott Murdoch and Samuel Shen

HONG KONG, Dec 2 (Reuters) - Chinese developer Kaisa Group Holdings Ltd is unlikely to win bondholders' approval to extend the maturity of a $400 million bond due next week, analysts say, heaping more pressure on other indebted peers.

Kaisa's proposal to delay the maturity of the bond by 18 months comes against the backdrop of growing creditor concerns about Chinese property developers' ability to meet their near-term offshore repayment obligations.

Some developers in late October called on the regulators to extend their offshore bond maturities https://www.reuters.com/business/exclusive-china-developers-propose-offshore-debt-maturity-extension-2021-10-27 or undertake a debt restructuring, as a growing number of defaults hit the sector.

Kaisa's struggle in getting a much-needed lifeline from its creditors will also weigh on other smaller developers that are looking to avoid long and messy litigation and restructuring processes, analysts said.

James Wong, portfolio manager of GaoTeng Global Asset Management Ltd, said that for Kaisa, a debt restructuring is "quite certain", as the threshold of passing the bond maturity extension proposal was too high.

"Investors are waiting for that day (of restructuring) to come" he said, adding smaller Chinese developers will continue to struggle.

Kaisa needs at least 95% of its bond holders to approve a proposal to exchange $400 million, 6.5% offshore bonds due Dec. 7 for new notes due June 6, 2023 at the same interest rate.

The firm, which became the first Chinese property developer to default on its dollar bonds in 2015, has said its notes exchange offer will expire 4 pm London time on Thursday unless it extends or terminates the proposal.

Kaisa is the second largest U.S.-dollar bond issuer among China's property developers after China Evergrande Group (EGRNF) , once China's top-selling developer and now at the centre of the country's property sector liquidity crisis.

Signs have emerged in recent days of Kaisa's exchange offer getting knocked back.

At least one group of Kaisa bond holders had rejected the offer, according to a letter sent this week by their financial advisor to the Kaisa board and a copy of which was reviewed by Reuters.

"The group believes that the terms of the exchange offer are unacceptable and illustrate an unwillingness on the part of the company to consider more appropriate and holistic ways to address Kaisa's current short term liquidity challenges," the letter said.

The group of bond holders mentioned in the letter sent to Kaisa offered a 'forbearance period' to the company to delay the repayment to continue negotiations.

The bond holders, who say they own 50% of the debt Kaisa is trying to exchange, have offered $2 billion in fresh debt funding to the Chinese firm to help it avert a default, two sources with knowledge of the offer told Reuters.

The exact details of the funding size or terms for the offer were not disclosed. The sources could not be named due to confidentiality constraints.

There had been little interaction between Kaisa and the group since the offer was presented to the Chinese developer, said the sources.

Kaisa did not immediately respond to Reuters request for comment. (Reporting by Scott Murdoch in Hong Kong and Samuel Shen in Shanghai; Writing by Sumeet Chatterjee)

In general the bond market is volatile, and fixed income securities carry interest rate risk. (As interest rates rise, bond prices usually fall, and vice versa. This effect is usually more pronounced for longer-term securities.) Fixed income securities also carry inflation risk and credit and default risks for both issuers and counterparties. Unlike individual bonds, most bond funds do not have a maturity date, so avoiding losses caused by price volatility by holding them until maturity is not possible.

Lower-quality debt securities generally offer higher yields, but also involve greater risk of default or price changes due to potential changes in the credit quality of the issuer. Any fixed income security sold or redeemed prior to maturity may be subject to loss.

Before investing, consider the funds' investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses. Contact Fidelity for a prospectus or, if available, a summary prospectus containing this information. Read it carefully.

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