Evergrande creditor group supports maintaining operations, not bankruptcy-SCMP

HONG KONG (Reuters) – A key offshore creditor group of China Evergrande Group supports keeping the developer operating, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported ahead of a court hearing on Monday that could decide to liquidate the indebted firm.

The group, which owns about $2 billion in offshore notes guaranteed by Evergrande, issued a statement late on Friday urging that Hengda Real Estate, Evergrande’s flagship onshore unit, be allowed to maintain operations to ensure completion of homes and delivery of homes, the newspaper said.

“No stakeholders of Hengda, be it customers, suppliers, creditors, or the (Chinese) government, would benefit from forcing Hengda into a multi-year, value-destructive bankruptcy process,” it cited the statement as saying.

“Such a bankruptcy process would only detract from the common goals of ensuring the prompt completion of projects and the timely delivery of homes, as well as procuring the long-term sustainability of Hengda as a going concern.”

Evergrande, the world’s most indebted property developer, and the advisers to the creditor group did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The SCMP quoted the advisers, the Kirkland & Ellis law firm and investment bank Moelis, as saying the creditors would “continue working together with Hengda and its management to support their efforts”, adding there was “no benefit or upside” in any bankruptcy of Hengda to the noteholders.

Evergrande has until the Hong Kong court hearing on Monday to present a “concrete” revised debt restructuring proposal for offshore creditors, a judge said last month after its original plan had lapsed.

Reuters reported on Thursday that Evergrande this week sought to avert liquidation with a restructuring proposal, offering to swap some offshore debt into equity in the company and two Hong Kong-listed units, and repay the rest with non-tradeable “certificates” backed by offshore assets.

The creditors group responded by demanding a controlling equity stake in Evergrande and the two Hong Kong subsidiaries, a source familiar with the matter said on Friday.

(Reporting by Clare Jim; Editing by William Mallard)