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China’s real estate crisis: Shanghai-based property giant Shimao Group faces liquidation suit

Shimao Group in Shanghai (File Photo/Reuters)

Amid the real estate crisis in China, another Shanghai-based property giant Shimao Group said on Monday that it had received a liquidation petition from a Chinese state-owned bank in yet another instance of creditors taking legal action to reclaim money from troubled developers in the world’s second-largest economy, CNN reported on Monday.

A “winding-up petition” was filed against the company by China Construction Bank (Asia) on April 5 in Hong Kong, according to a stock exchange filing by Shimao. The petition is in “connection with a financial obligation of the company for approximately HK 1,579.5 million dollars (USD 204 million),” the filing said.

Shimao said it will “oppose the petition vigorously” and will continue to work toward an offshore restructuring that maximizes value for its stakeholders.

“The company is of the view that the petition does not represent collective interests of the company’s offshore creditors and other stakeholders,” it said.

Shimao’s debt troubles date back to July 2022, when it failed to pay the interest and principal on a USD 1 billion bond. The company’s shares were down over 14 per cent in Hong Kong on Monday, having fallen nearly 40 per cent this year.

China’s massive real estate sector fell into trouble after the government clamped down on excessive borrowing by developers in 2020 in an attempt to cool the property bubble. Since then, dozens of Chinese developers have defaulted on their debts, CNN reported.

The industry has since become a drag on the broader economy, which is grappling with a slow recovery from three years of pandemic lockdowns and a series of headwinds, from record-high youth unemployment to mounting financial stress at local governments.

In January, Evergrande, the world’s most-indebted property developer and the poster child of China’s property crisis, was ordered to liquidate by a Hong Kong court.

The liquidation order, made by the city’s High Court, came after the embattled Chinese real estate giant and its overseas creditors failed to agree on how to restructure the company’s massive debt during talks that went on for 19 months.

There are still questions about how the collapse of Evergrande will affect investors, thousands of workers and homebuyers waiting for their apartments.

Country Garden, another major developer that defaulted on its debt last year, received a liquidation petition in February from a creditor after not repaying a loan.