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Chinese developers’ debt woes worsen as sales, yuan weaken

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2/2

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Yuan banknotes are seen in this illustrative photograph taken in Beijing July 26, 2010. REUTERS/Jason Lee

2/2

By Clare Jim

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Chinese developer Zhongliang Holdings is scrambling to secure bondholder approval to extend the repayment on notes worth $729 million ahead of a key deadline next week, joining peers desperate to avoid offshore debt defaults.

The Shanghai-based company has struggled to sell enough houses amid a sustained property downturn in China or secure refinancing to pay investors who are due full redemption on their bonds in May and July.

A bond default by Zhongliang would deepen investor worries about China’s property sector as Beijing seeks to shore up confidence in the wider economy.

Even if Zhongliang gets approval to extend by another year, the developer, reeling under a cash crunch, would need to pay an additional $1.25 million on its bond coupons now due to a weaker yuan. For other cash-strapped issuers with heavier debt burdens, additional repayment costs due to the currency swing could be much larger.

“The situation is definitely more severe this time,” said Zhongliang Chief Financial Officer Albert Yau, comparing current conditions to the yuan’s last major decline in 2018.

Unlike the 2018 tumble, developers are now unable to refinance offshore after a series of defaults by other issuers in the troubled sector made new debt raising impossible. That means repayments would need to be transferred from onshore yuan accounts.

Zhongliang asked holders of its May and July 2022 notes in late April to delay the maturities by exchanging their bonds for new issuance due next year.

Bondholders have until late Monday to give their consent, a deadline extended from May 10. Failure to secure 90% approval would likely result in a default.

FRESH CHALLENGES

Casting a cloud over Zhongliang’s tight cashflow is a grim outlook for the property market, which is now depressed by strict COVID-19 lockdowns in many Chinese cities. Zhongliang’s sales have plunged 55% in the first four months of 2022.

“We expect it will take a longer period of time for sales to recover – it’s a long-term battle,” Yau said, adding the developer’s business in 40% of the coastal cities were disrupted because of the lockdowns.

A sharp slowdown in home sales in the world’s second-largest economy and a weaker yuan are set to pile pressure on property developers already struggling to repay debt and raise fresh capital.

An over 6% drop in the yuan has made offshore debt maturities worth around $20 billion for rest of the year more expensive for developers, some of whom have already defaulted on their repayment obligations this year.

Sunac China on Wednesday became the latest to join other developers that have failed to make dollar bond payments in the recent months, renewing investor concerns about the sector that accounts for a quarter of the country’s economy.

The developers, who were hoping for the market to bottom out in the second quarter, are revising down investor expectations for full-year sales after posting a 50% plunge in the first four months, with no demand rebound seen in the near future.

A developer based in the Guangdong province said city curbs not only hurt short-term sales but also affect longer-term purchasing power with potential buyers feeling insecure about their jobs.

The mounting challenges for the developers come against the backdrop of repeated assurances by the Chinese policymakers and regulators to ensure healthy sector development by avoiding defaults and efforts including banks extending loans.

“It is indeed a double whammy situation that they will face, not only about this weaker revenue but on the other hand it’s this weaker currency plus higher yield,” said Gary Ng, Asia Pacific senior economist of Natixis.

“I think definitely there will be more concerns in terms of repayment ability as we have seen the default ratio, which is dominated by real estate developers in the offshore market, has increased.”

An executive of another listed developer, who has delayed its dollar bond payments to next year, said a weaker yuan has a big long-term impact on its offshore debt restructuring under discussions because it will become much more expensive.

The executive declined to be named because the restructuring discussion is private.

Stock Markets

Hyundai Motor Group to invest more than $10 billion in U.S. up to 2025

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on

3/3

© Reuters. Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Euisun Chung delivers remarks along with U.S. President Joe Biden on the automaker’s decision to build a new electric vehicle and battery manufacturing facility in Savannah, Georgia, as Biden ends his visit to Seoul, South K

2/3

By Heekyong Yang

SEOUL (Reuters) -Hyundai Motor Group said on Sunday it would invest an additional $5 billion in the United States by 2025 to strengthen collaboration with U.S. firms in advanced technology.

The investments, announced during a visit to Seoul by President Joe Biden, are for robotics, urban air mobility, autonomous driving and artificial intelligence, the group said.

Hyundai Motor Group, which houses Hyundai Motor Co and Kia Corp, on Friday announced plans to invest $5.5 billion in Georgia to build electric vehicle (EV) and battery facilities.

The new investment brings its planned U.S. total through 2025 to about $10 billion, above the $7.4 billion it announced last year.

The world’s third-biggest automaker by vehicles sales did not say where in the United States the additional $5 billion would be invested.

“Thanks to Hyundai, we are being part of this transformative automobile sector and accelerating us on a road where we’re going to be handing to United States of all electric future,” Biden told a news conference.

Standing next to him after a meeting, Hyundai Motor Group executive chair Euisun Chung said, “I am confident that this new plant in Georgia will help us become a leader in the America automobile industry with regards to building high quality electric vehicles for our U.S. customers.”

Hyundai’s new EV and battery manufacturing facilities will be based in the southern “right to work” state, where labour unions are less prevalent and cannot require workers to join.

Biden, a Democrat, has described himself as the most pro-union president in history. But the deal, announced by Georgia’s Republican governor, showed the compromises the president may have to make as he woos investment overseas.

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Stock Markets

Analysis-Tesla brand threatened by Musk harassment claim, criticism of Democrats

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3/3

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Tesla CEO Elon Musk speaks about new Autopilot features during a Tesla event in Palo Alto, California October 14, 2015. REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach

2/3

By Hyunjoo Jin and Paul Lienert

(Reuters) – Elon Musk has made a name for himself and Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) by breaking the rules, but the billionaire’s latest comments on politics and a claim of sexual harassment against him that he said is untrue may hurt the brand in the eyes of some car owners and employees.

Musk on Thursday denied a report by Business Insider that he sexually harassed a flight attendant on a private jet in 2016, calling the person who made the claim a liar.

The previous day, the Tesla chief executive, in the midst of a contentious effort to buy Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR), said he would now vote Republican instead of Democrat and called the Democrats a “party of division and hate.”

Tesla also was cut this week from the widely followed S&P 500 ESG Index, which an index executive said was due to issues including claims of racial discrimination within the company and crashes linked to its vehicles.

Musk responded by calling such ratings around environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues a “scam,” and questioned how the index could drop an electric car firm while adding oil and gas producers.

Tesla could not immediately be reached to comment.

While Musk has made attention-grabbing headlines before – once calling one critic a “pedo guy” on Twitter – the latest controversies again raise the question whether his outspokenness will tarnish his likeability. And – since Musk is so closely tied to Tesla – whether that will that hurt the carmaker’s sales, especially in California.

The left-leaning state is Tesla’s largest market, accounting for nearly 40% of the company’s U.S. retail registrations last year, according to Experian (OTC:EXPGF) data. Tesla sales in California were up almost 70% in the year and it had a 6.5% share of all vehicles in the state, according to the California New Car Dealers Association.

#BoycottTesla was trending on Twitter on Friday and several people claimed they were canceling their car orders.

“In the past, I admired him for working to build a green business that’s transformational in energy use. But he is sadly becoming divisive as an attention seeking troll and I no longer trust that he is dedicated to the quality of his products. I will cancel my Tesla order,” said J Yeh, a Twitter user who describes herself as a lawyer who has lived in several cities including Los Angeles.

“You lost a potential customer,” a Twitter user named Ute Bauer from Germany said, adding in German: “To anyone reading this, cancel your orders.”

Reuters was unable to confirm if any Tesla orders had been canceled.

Many institutional investors may stand by Musk no matter what given the company’s strong performance, but that doesn’t mean some aren’t frustrated.

“They’re doing a lot of good things,” said Taylor Ogan, CEO of Snow Bull Capital, which owns Tesla shares. “It’s just disappointing when that is tainted by Elon Musk’s antics. Elon Musk is the best thing for Tesla and the worst thing for Tesla.”

One Tesla employee, who asked not to be identified, voiced frustration that Musk’s efforts outside Tesla appeared to be hurting the carmaker’s stock. “The company needs to do something to address the issue,” he said.

On Friday, Tesla shares dropped almost 9%, knocking about $66 billion off of Tesla’s stock market value and putting the stock at its lowest level since last August, with analysts citing “distraction risks” from the Twitter deal. Musk assured people on Thursday Tesla was constantly on his mind.

If discussion around water coolers at work focused on the sexual harassment claim against Musk rather than Tesla products, the end result could be “corrosive” for the Tesla brand, said John Smith, a former group vice president at GM who ran global product planning.

Tesla and SpaceX employees also could become “a little bit rattled and angry” because of Musk’s anti-Democratic party comments as technology company staff in California tend to be more liberal, said Jason Stomel, founder of tech talent agency Cadre.

Bill Nelson, administrator of NASA, which relies on Musk’s SpaceX to fly its astronauts to space, told Reuters on Thursday that Musk has a strong team of executives at the spacecraft maker and the agency’s partnership with the company was “going without a hitch.”

And Musk still has plenty of fans online. Twitter user @JVega103 said he was a Republican who owned a Tesla and just signed up for Tesla solar panels. “Thanks for everything you do,” the user tweeted.

That left some industry observers wondering whether Musk and Tesla would simply shake off these latest controversies, as they have in the past.

“Is Elon Musk now crazy, or crazy like a fox? He has earned the benefit of the doubt as he is often playing chess when the rest of us are playing checkers,” Northwestern (NASDAQ:NWE) University professor Erik Qualman said. “As Musk himself on ‘Saturday Night Live’ famously stated, ‘What, did you think I would be normal?'”

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Stock Markets

Hyundai Motor Group to invest $5 billion in U.S. up to 2025

Published

on

3/3

© Reuters. Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Euisun Chung delivers remarks along with U.S. President Joe Biden on the automaker’s decision to build a new electric vehicle and battery manufacturing facility in Savannah, Georgia, as Biden ends his visit to Seoul, South K

2/3

By Heekyong Yang

SEOUL (Reuters) -Hyundai Motor Group said on Sunday it would invest an additional $5 billion in the United States by 2025 to strengthen collaboration with U.S. firms in advanced technology.

The investments, announced during a visit to Seoul by President Joe Biden, are for robotics, urban air mobility, autonomous driving and artificial intelligence, the group said.

Hyundai Motor Group, which houses Hyundai Motor Co and Kia Corp, on Friday announced plans to invest $5.5 billion in Georgia to build electric vehicle (EV) and battery facilities.

The new investment brings its planned U.S. total through 2025 to about $10 billion, above the $7.4 billion it announced last year.

The world’s third-biggest automaker by vehicles sales did not say where in the United States the additional $5 billion would be invested.

“Thanks to Hyundai, we are being part of this transformative automobile sector and accelerating us on a road where we’re going to be handing to United States of all electric future,” Biden told a news conference.

Standing next to him after a meeting, Hyundai Motor Group executive chair Euisun Chung said, “I am confident that this new plant in Georgia will help us become a leader in the America automobile industry with regards to building high quality electric vehicles for our U.S. customers.”

Hyundai’s new EV and battery manufacturing facilities will be based in the southern “right to work” state, where labour unions are less prevalent and cannot require workers to join.

Biden, a Democrat, has described himself as the most pro-union president in history. But the deal, announced by Georgia’s Republican governor, showed the compromises the president may have to make as he woos investment overseas.

Continue Reading

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