An exterior view of China Evergrande Centre in Hong Kong, China March 26, 2018.
Bobby Yip | Reuters
BEIJING — Indebted property developer China Evergrande‘s contracted sales plunged last year as the real estate giant struggled to repay creditors.
A filing Tuesday showed the company’s contracted sales of properties totaled 443.02 billion yuan ($69.22 billion) last year, down 38.7% from the 723.25 billion yuan in contracted sales reported for 2020.
Evergrande shares reopened higher in Hong Kong on Tuesday afternoon, with shares trying to hold gains of about 3%.
Trading was halted as of 9 a.m. Monday, with shares at 1.59 Hong Kong dollars (20 cents) each. That’s just above the all-time intraday low of 1.42 Hong Kong dollars per share set on Dec. 24, according to FactSet.
Shares have plunged more than 88% over the last 250 trading days. The company missed payments to creditors in December, Fitch Ratings said, sending the developer into default.
Evergrande, China’s second-biggest developer by sales in 2020, is the largest Chinese real estate developer by issuance of offshore, U.S. dollar-denominated debt, which stood at $19 billion last year. The developer had a total of $300 billion in liabilities as of last year.
The company said Tuesday it “will continue to actively maintain communication with creditors, strive to resolve risks and safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of all parties.”
The developer added that a demolition order for its Ocean Flower Island project only applied to 39 buildings, according to Tuesday’s filing with the Hong Kong stock exchange.
Evergrande’s public statements have tried to assure investors the company is completing and delivering apartments to customers. But demand is drying up for the developer’s future projects.
The full-year figures indicate contracted sales of only 720 million yuan in just over two months, between Oct. 21 and Dec. 31. In contrast, contracted sales in August totaled 38.08 billion yuan, and stood at 3.65 billion yuan between the beginning of Sept. and Oct. 20.
S&P Global Ratings warned in November that an Evergrande default “is highly likely” since the company is no longer able to sell new homes. Like other Chinese real estate developers, Evergrande’s business model relies heavily on sales of apartments to customers before the units are completed.
Evergrande’s troubles have raised concerns about the health of China’s massive real estate industry overall.
Chinese authorities have called the company a “unique case.” Analysts have pointed out that in contrast with other developers, Evergrande made little progress toward complying with new regulations aimed at restricting the industry’s reliance on debt.
However, a prominent Chinese developer that met government requirements on debt, has also warned of falling sales.
Shanghai Shimao told investors in late December it would be difficult to hit its full-year contracted sales target of 38 billion yuan since sales in the first 11 months of the year were 28.2 billion yuan, according to a filing. In addition to stock declines, the company’s bonds have plunged in the last few months.