Cash-strapped property developer Evergrande Group saw its Shenzhen headquarters fall into a state of chaos on Monday when about 100 disgruntled investors came to demand repayment of loans and financial products. Evergrande Group, which is deeply mired in debt, issued a statement later that night, denying rumors of bankruptcy and reorganization of the company.
The embattled firm said in its official statement that “the recent remarks about Evergrande’s bankruptcy and reorganization on the Internet are totally untrue. The company has indeed encountered unprecedented difficulties at present, but we will resolutely fulfill our responsibilities, go all out to resume work and delivery of buildings, and try every means to resume normal operations and fully protect the legitimate rights and interests of clients.”
More than 60 uniformed security guards formed a wall in front of the main entrances of the building at noon on Monday, where protesters shouted at company representatives, Reuters reported in Shenzhen.
Du Liang, the general manager and legal representative of Evergrande’s wealth management division, released a payment plan to investors on Sunday night. But protesters at the company’s headquarters did not buy it, according to Chinese media outlet Caixin.
“They say the repayment will take two years to finish, but there is no real guarantee. I fear the company will go bankrupt by the end of the year,” said a protester surnamed Wang. He claims he works at Evergrande and has invested 100,000 yuan ($15,497) in the company, while his relatives have invested as much as 1 million yuan.
Company representatives at the scene did not respond to Reuters’ questions. Meanwhile, Evergrande’s public relations department and Shenzhen police did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
In addition, Chinese media outlet STCN reported on the same day that, to solve the redemption problem of Evergrande’s wealth management products, the company has announced three plans for investors to choose from, including cash installments, residential buildings, apartments, office buildings, shops and parking spaces, or various alternative “debt repayment” redemption plans.
Another domestic media outlet, The Paper, quoted some investors who said that they could not accept such redemption plans. One investor said the principal and interest should be redeemed at one time, and that installments or in-kind redemptions would not be accepted.
Xu Jiayin, Chairman of Evergrande Group, said at a special meeting on September 10, “I can lose everything, but investors of Evergrande cannot.” Xu emphasized that “in the redemption process, it must be fair, and no one is allowed to engage in specialization, which has never happened before and will never happen in the future. We should do everything possible to make redemption earlier than planned according to the established redemption plan.”
It is worth mentioning that on the evening of September 12, Du Liang admitted that he redeemed Evergrande wealth management products on May 31. He explained that the early redemption was due to a family emergency.
Evergrande Group is the most indebted real estate developer in the world. According to a financial report, as of the end of June this year, Evergrande’s interest-bearing liabilities reached 571.775 billion yuan ($88.69 billion), of which about 240.049 billion yuan will become due within one year. Several of the firm’s construction projects have been suspended due to project payments in arrears and other reasons.
Since the beginning of this year, Moody’s and other international credit rating agencies have downgraded Evergrande and its subsidiaries three times. Judging from Evergrande’s large debts, a large number of investors and more than 160,000 employees, the public is concerned about the impact on China’s economy if the company goes bankrupt.