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Friday, September 22, 2023

Country Garden’s Debt Concerns: Stakeholders Consult Ashurst Amid Repayment Fears

ChinaCountry Garden's Debt Concerns: Stakeholders Consult Ashurst Amid Repayment Fears

In recent times, the financial sphere has been buzzing with the rumor that several holders of Country Garden’s offshore bonds (2007.HK) are consulting with the esteemed law firm, Ashurst. Their main agenda revolves around strategizing for potential contingencies in case the prominent Chinese property developer, Country Garden, defaults on its debt obligations.

Hedge Funds and Distressed Bond Investments

It’s important to note that the discussions with Ashurst aren’t limited to individual bondholders. Several hedge funds specializing in distressed bond investments and restructuring are also actively participating in these discussions. These funds have a history and expertise in dealing with potentially challenging financial situations. The choice of Ashurst, headquartered in London, showcases the global interest and implications this issue might have. Though the sources providing this information have remained anonymous due to a lack of authority to make public statements, their input sheds light on the magnitude of the situation.

Despite attempts to get an official response, both Ashurst and Country Garden have chosen to remain silent on the matter. Their decision not to comment has further fueled speculations.

Country Garden’s Financial Challenges

Country Garden stands out in the Chinese property development sector. It’s one of the rare private developers that, as of now, hasn’t defaulted on its offshore debt obligations. However, the company’s financial stability came under scrutiny when it barely managed to make a last-minute coupon payment of $22.5 million. This event highlighted the strain on the company’s finances.

A closer look at Country Garden’s financial statements reveals more reasons for concern. In a previous month, the company forewarned stakeholders of potential default risks, especially if its financial health continues its downward spiral. As of the end of June, Country Garden’s short-term obligations stand at an alarming 108.7 billion yuan (approximately $14.9 billion). In stark contrast, the available cash on hand is just 101.1 billion yuan. With at least five coupon payments looming this month, the company’s financial duress becomes even more evident. Two of these payments, due on September 17 and September 27, amount to $15 million and $40 million respectively, with a 30-day grace period for each.

China’s Property Sector Crisis

To understand the stress on Country Garden, it’s crucial to look at the broader picture. China’s property sector, which significantly contributes to almost a quarter of the country’s GDP, has been in turmoil since 2021. The government’s efforts to control the surging debt have had unintended consequences. Sales in the property sector haven’t shown signs of revival since the clampdown. This dismal environment further complicates Country Garden’s challenges.

Many financial experts and creditors opine that without immediate liquidity support, Country Garden might be forced to revisit its debt structure. This could mean a comprehensive debt restructuring or other financial measures to ensure its survival.

Offshore Creditors and Law Firms

In light of these developments, offshore creditors aren’t just relying on Ashurst. Some have also engaged the New York-based law firm, Kobre & Kim LLP. They aim to form a united front if Country Garden decides on a debt restructure. As one of the sources elaborated, several bondholders have initiated informal groups to brainstorm and discuss viable options. Another source added that the talks with Ashurst also involve offshore Chinese funds and affluent individuals holding Country Garden bonds.

Strategizing for Default Scenarios

A significant focus of these discussions involves understanding how Country Garden’s offshore assets might be utilized if a default occurs. The assets could potentially be leveraged or monetized to ensure creditors get their due. While no formal strategy has been disclosed, the very fact that such conversations are taking place underlines the gravity of Country Garden’s situation.


The unfolding situation with Country Garden is emblematic of the larger issues plaguing China’s property sector. As stakeholders, hedge funds, and law firms come together, it will be crucial to observe how Country Garden navigates these challenges. Its decisions will not only impact its future but also offer insights into how major companies can manage financial distress in uncertain economic climates. With the right strategies and collaborations, there’s hope that a solution will emerge that safeguards the interests of all parties involved.

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