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Chinese Real Estate Goliath Country Garden Teetering On Brink Of Default


Country Garden, the largest private property developer in China, said it may not be able to meet interest payments on overseas debt obligations, which could lead to a default. 

Country Garden has about 3,000 housing projects across China and has $187B of debt, including $17B in dollar-denominated debt, Bloomberg reported.

While it hasn’t defaulted yet, it missed interest payments of about $55M and $60M on overseas debt in September and has until 18 October and 27 October, respectively, to remedy that. 

If not, it will go into default, and it has hired Houlihan Lokey, China International Capital Corporation and law firm Sidley Austin to advise it on possible restructuring options. 

Country Garden is the latest heavily indebted Chinese developer to default on loans, following in the footsteps of China Evergrande Group, the developer that defaulted on its debt in 2021 and went into bankruptcy in August this year. 

Chinese developers took on debt to build as much as possible in a property boom that lasted until 2021 when the government tightened rules around borrowing for buyers to try and dampen home price inflation. Falling sales since then have hindered the ability of developers to meet interest payments. 

International investors have been keeping a watchful eye on the situation because although international financial institutions are less exposed to the Chinese residential market than they were to the U.S. residential market in the run-up to the 2008 crash, it does have potential global impacts. 

Residential development has been a major driver of Chinese GDP growth over the last decade, so a debt crisis in that sector might hinder the wider Chinese economy, which is now of a size and scale that a default by a developer of this size could have an impact on the global economy.