Evergrande shares rise over 9% as liquidation hearing postponed again

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NANJING, CHINA – AUGUST 18, 2023 – Aerial photo shows a residential area of Evergrande in Nanjing, East China’s Jiangsu province, Aug 18, 2023. (Photo by Costfoto/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

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Shares of Evergrande Group rose over 9% as the beleaguered Chinese property firm’s court hearing over its possible liquidation was postponed to Jan. 29, 2024.

The firm was originally scheduled to face a Hong Kong court hearing on Monday over a petition from a creditor seeking to wind up the company.

Shares in the firm that was once China’s largest private sector developer by sales have plummeted almost 85% so far this year.

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Justice Linda Chan from Hong Kong’s High Court had earlier pushed back the hearing from Oct. 30 to Dec. 4, while warning Evergrande to come up with a revised restructuring proposal before the hearing date or else the company could be wound up.

Top Shine, an investor in Evergrande unit Fangchebao, had filed a petition in June 2022 seeking to wind up the property firm.

A group of offshore creditors has been demanding controlling equity stakes in the property developer and its two Hong Kong subsidiaries as part of its revamped restructuring proposal, Bloomberg reported on Friday, citing sources with knowledge of the matter.

Reuters had reported on Thursday that Evergrande’s new proposal offers creditors a 17.8% stake in the group, in addition to 30% stake in each of its Hong Kong units — Evergrande Property Services Group and Evergrande New Energy Vehicle Group.

The agency, however, reported that creditors were unlikely to accept Evergrande’s new proposal, given low recovery prospects and growing concerns about its future.

“Evergrande inflated revenue and profits”: GMT

Over the weekend, a report released by research firm GMT Research alleged that Evergrande had been inflating its revenue and profits “for years”, adding the company was “never profitable.”

GMT explained in its report how in 2021 Evergrande made changes to the way it recognized revenue from property sales, adding that this had a substantial impact on the company’s reported revenue and profit.

Following the changes, Evergrande’s recorded revenue of 664 billion yuan and net profit of 102 billion yuan had to be reversed, GMT said.

This was “equal to 27% of Evergrande’s entire revenue since 2004, the earliest year for which we have financial information, and 38% of cumulative net profits,” the report alleged.

GMT also said that most of Evergrande’s current revenue is likely to be sales that have been re-recognised, when the new conditions were fulfilled.

While GMT said that it was unclear as to how long Evergrande had been artificially inflating its revenue, it highlighted the company’s low contract liabilities before 2021, signaling the company had likely been pulling forward its revenue by several years.

The report notes that at end-2020, Country Garden reported contract liabilities equal to 61% of total properties under development, compared with just 15% for Evergrande. They were at around 50% for both the firms in 2010.

“However, on restatement after the change in revenue recognition, Evergrande’s contract liabilities jumped to 57% of properties under development at start-2021, similar to Country Garden. It suggests Evergrande’s may have been pulling forward revenue for up to a decade,” the research firm said.

GMT reiterated its view from its 2016 report that “Evergrande is insolvent, in that the value of its assets is less than its liabilities.”

In response, Evergrande said in a filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange that it had noted “an institution” had issued a report “without basis”, which alleged the company has never been profitable, adding it would offer a clarification in due course.

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