Evergrande shares plummet 20% to new record low as default fears resurface
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Evergrande shares plummet 20% to new record low as default fears resurface

Shares of Evergrande plummeted to a new record low on Monday as the Chinese developer once again teetered on the brink of default.

Evergrande’s stock closed down 20% at 1.81 Hong Kong dollars ($0.23), the lowest since it listed in Hong Kong in 2009. It has lost 87% of its value since the start of the year.

The company, which has about $300 billion in total liabilities, warned late Friday it might not have enough funds to meet its financial obligations. It faces an immediate test of its ability to repay creditors on Monday with the expiry of a 30-day grace period on interest payments on its dollar-denomnated bonds.

“In light of the current liquidity status … there is no guarantee that the group will have sufficient funds to continue to perform its financial obligations,” Evergrande said late Friday in a stock exchange filing. The company “plans to actively engage” with offshore creditors on a restructuring plan, it added.

The provincial government of Guangdong, where Evergrande is based, said it had summoned Evergrande’s chairman Xu Jiayin to a meeting on Friday night. In a statement, the government said it would send a working group to Evergrande to oversee risk management, strengthen internal controls and maintain normal operations, at the request of the company.

Meanwhile, in a raft of seemingly coordinated statements, three Chinese regulators — the People’s Bank of China, the banking and insurance regulator, and the securities regulator —said that any spillover risk from Evergrande to the property market, home owners, and the broader financial system can be controlled.

The regulators also reiterated previous accusations that the company had got into trouble through a combination of poor management and blind expansion.

Evergrande has been scrambling to raise cash to repay lenders, and Xu has even been selling off personal assets to prop up its finances. So far, the company appears to have avoided defaulting on any of its publicly traded offshore bonds by paying overdue interest before grace periods expire for each of those obligations.

Nevertheless, Friday’s warning is a sign that the company may be unable to make further payments within its debt deadlines.

In the filing, Evergrande also said it had received a demand from creditors to fulfill its pledge to guarantee a payment of $260 million. Creditors may demand accelerated repayment if the company is unable to perform its debt obligations, it added.

The collapse in Evergrande shares, and other property stocks, weighed on Hong Kong’s benchmark Hang Seng Index on Monday. It dropped 1.8%, hurt also by big losses in Chinese tech stocks which slumped Friday in New York following Didi’s abrupt decision to quit Wall Street just five months after it went public there.

The Hang Seng Tech Index, which tracks the 30 largest tech companies listed in the city, tumbled 3.3% to its lowest level on record.

Alibaba lost 5.6%. Baidu dropped 5.7%, and JD.com shed 4.9%.

Other Asian indexes were mixed. Japan’s Nikkei 225 ended down 0.4%, and China’s Shanghai Composite was down 0.5%.

Dow and S&P 500 futures ticked higher Monday following Friday’s losses. Dow futures were up 178 points, or 0.5%. S&P 500 futures were also 0.6% higher. But Nasdaq futures slid 1.2%, continuing the downward spiral after a 1.9% drop in the index on Friday.

The tech sell-off extended to cryptocurrencies over the weekend. Bitcoin plunged more than 20% on Saturday, before recouping some losses on Sunday. By Monday, the digital token traded around $48,159, according to CoinDesk.

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