Commentary on Political Economy

Thursday 28 March 2024



Real Estate

Country Garden Delays Results, Expects Trading Suspension

  • Developer says it needs more information to complete results
  • Missed deadline means firm faces HK trading suspension
A Country Garden Holdings project in Heyuan, China.Source: Bloomberg/Bloomberg

Country Garden Holdings Co., one of China’s biggest property developers, warned it will miss a deadline for reporting annual results, further complicating plans to restructure its debt following a default last year.

In a surprise announcement late Thursday, the Foshan-based developer said it expects to delay publishing its 2023 results beyond a March 31 deadline imposed by regulators. The delay will likely result in a suspension of trading on April 2 when the Hong Kong market reopens after Easter, the firm said in a filing.

The delay signals the developer’s troubles are entering a new chapter after a Hong Kong court received a creditor’s petition to wind up the company. Country Garden, once hailed by many as a likely survivor of China’s real estate crisis, roiled markets last year when it defaulted on its dollar debt. Earlier this month, it also missed a coupon payment on a yuan bond for the first time.

The earnings delay “suggests new impediments to its restructuring, with any delays to its debt plan likely to fuel concerns of lawsuit risk,” said Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Kristy Hung, in a research note.

Country Garden said it needs time to collect more information so it can “make appropriate accounting estimates and judgments, and reasonably reflect changes in the industry,” according to the filing.

Country Garden’s auditor is PricewaterhouseCoopers, whose China affiliate audited China Evergrande Group’s main onshore unit, which was accused this month of overstating revenue by about $78 billion over two years. Country Garden said it will continue to work closely with PricewaterhouseCoopers to publish the 2023 annual results.

A deserted shopping center at Country Garden Holdings Co.’s Phoenix City development in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, ChinaSource: Bloomberg
More on Country Garden:
Country Garden Misses Yuan Bond Payment for First Time
How Country Garden Plays Into China’s Property Mess: QuickTake

A sales drought for Country Garden meanwhile has worsened. Contract sales for February plunged 85% from a year earlier, widening from a 75% slide in January, corporate filings show.

Homebuyers in China are avoiding defaulted developers on concerns about their ability to complete housing projects. Now the focus is turning to China Vanke Co., a state-backed builder that is in talks with creditors to stave off a default. Vanke reported late Thursday that net income tumbled 46%, missing estimates from analysts.

Country Garden said 272 residential projects have been included by local authorities for financing support as of Mar. 15.

China Evergrande Group’s main onshore unit Hengda has been accused by China’s securities regulator of vastly inflating its revenue and profits in 2019 and 2020. Hengda’s auditor in 2019 and 2020 was PricewaterhouseCoopers Zhong Tian LLP, a mainland entity affiliated with PwC’s network. PwC resigned as Evergrande’s auditor in January 2023 due to audit disagreements.

    — With assistance from Charlie Zhu and Emma Dong

    (Updates with comment from fourth paragraph)

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