Chinese property giant Country Garden warns of $7.6 billion loss
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According to one of China’s biggest developers, up to $7.6 billion were burnt in the first half of the year, compounding the crisis coursing through the country’s real estate market.

In a Hong Kong stock exchange filing Thursday, Country Garden warned investors it would likely lose 45 billion to 55 billion Chinese yuan ($6.2 billion to $7.6 billion) in the six months through June.

For the same period last year, the company earned approximately 1.9 billion yuan ($264.3 million).

A series of disclosures reveals Country Garden’s financial woes, a massive Chinese homebuilder that builds hundreds of thousands of houses annually.

In terms of debt, the developer, which employs some 300,000 workers, is compared to Evergrande, the world’s most indebted property company.

Recent weeks have seen the company become the latest sign of China’s economic trouble, as the company teeters on the brink of default and, by its own admission, is trying to save itself.

The shares of Country Garden plunged 8.7% in Hong Kong Friday after the firm issued a loss warning, as well as a report from Chinese news outlet Yicai citing unidentified sources that the firm was preparing a debt restructuring.

There has been no independent confirmation of Yicai’s report.

In its filing, the company said it would “consider adopting various debt management measures,” without elaborating further, as well as rely on a task force newly set up to “cope with” its challenges. A request for comment was not immediately returned by Country Garden.

During the early afternoon of Friday in Hong Kong, its stock had dropped to 95 Hong Kong cents from 98 Hong Kong cents in October 2008.

Moody’s expects some of the company’s debt – roughly $4.3 billion in onshore and offshore bonds – to become due or “puttable” by the end of 2024, meaning that bondholders will be obligated to pay.

CGH must pay at least $137 million in bond interest by the end of 2023, Morningstar analyst Jeff Zhang wrote in a report Thursday.

On Thursday, Moody’s downgraded the company’s credit rating to a Caa1, indicating “very high risk” of holding the company’s debt due to the missed payments. In the event of a lower rating, the company may have to pay even higher funding costs.

Among the reasons for the downgrade were Country Garden’s cash flow problems, “deteriorating liquidity and financial flexibility, sizable refinancing needs, and still-constrained access to funding,” Kaven Tsang, a Moody’s senior vice president, said.

Country Garden’s negative outlook reflects uncertainty over its ability to service its debt obligations, including coupon payments, in a timely manner over the next [six to] 12 months, he explained.

As well, Zhang said Morningstar believed that the missed payments were not an isolated incident.

It is likely that Country Garden will default, he wrote in his report.

In order to stem the bleeding, the company is working hard.

According to its filing on Thursday, the company expects to lose money in the first half due to a wide range of problems, from falling property sales to lower profit margins.

According to data released last week, China’s 100 biggest developers sold 33% fewer homes in July than a year earlier.