China Evergrande Says Construction Has | Stock Market News Today


Troubled property developer

China Evergrande Group


EGRNF -10.55%

said construction work has resumed at more than 90% of its stalled residential projects, adding that it has picked up the pace of delivering apartments promised to home buyers across the country.

Evergrande,


EGRNF -10.55%

in a statement Sunday night, said more than 80% of its suppliers of materials and decorative services have “resumed cooperation,” and that it has signed thousands of new contracts with various suppliers. At the end of August, the developer disclosed that construction had been suspended at some projects after it fell behind on payments. And by October, hundreds of Evergrande’s unfinished developments were affected by work stoppages.

With just a few days to go before the end of 2021, Evergrande said it intends to deliver 39,000 homes in 115 projects to buyers across China in December. It compared that to its completion of fewer than 10,000 units in each of the preceding three months.

The world’s most indebted real-estate firm Evergrande has embarked on a social media campaign to show construction has resumed and says it’s doing whatever it takes to deliver homes. WSJ compares these posts with ones from upset buyers. Photo Composite: Emily Siu

In a post on social media Monday, Evergrande said apartment projects have been handed over in batches in 18 provinces and it released photos of completed buildings adorned with bright red decorations and people signing papers to take ownership of their homes.

Despite this, Evergrande still has many more commitments to fulfill and its debt crisis remains unresolved. The 25-year-old developer used to be one of the country’s largest by contracted sales and is on the hook to deliver units to more than one million people. Many buyers made large down payments on unfinished flats, expecting to take ownership of them in a few years.

Hui Ka Yan,

Evergrande’s founder and chairman, said that “under the care and guidance of governments at all levels,” as well as support from partners, financial institutions and other constituents, the developer has made progress in its commitments to homeowners.

He added that Evergrande would do whatever it takes to resume work and deliver homes and predicted that the firm will eventually be able to “resume sales, resume operations, and pay off debts.”

Hui Ka Yan, China Evergrande’s chairman, in Hong Kong in 2019.



Photo:

Paul Yeung/Bloomberg News

The company’s statement followed comments over the weekend from two Chinese regulators which said they would safeguard the rights of homeowners and keep the property sector stable. Beijing has been trying to prevent Evergrande’s debt crisis from hurting the many small businesses and ordinary citizens that the developer owes money and apartments to.

Wang Menghui,

head of China’s Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, said in an interview with the state-run Xinhua News Agency that the regulator will address the risks of some leading developers that fail to deliver projects on time, with the goal of “guaranteeing home deliveries, protecting people’s livelihoods and maintaining social stability.”

The People’s Bank of China separately said—as part of a wide-ranging statement on the economy—that it would protect the rights and interests of homeowners and promote the healthy development of the country’s real-estate market.

Evergrande, the world’s most indebted developer, has been struggling under the weight of roughly $300 billion in liabilities, including around $20 billion in international bonds. The developer has missed payment deadlines on some of its dollar bonds, setting the stage for a massive and complex restructuring. Major credit raters have declared it to be in default.

Earlier this month, the conglomerate sought help from the government of its home province, Guangdong. It has since set up a risk-management committee that includes representatives from several state-backed entities.

Evergrande recently said the committee is working to help contain its risks and will engage with its creditors. Some international bondholders, however, have said there has been little communication from the company so far, the Journal reported last week.

The company’s Hong Kong-listed shares have plunged in value this year to historic lows and its dollar bonds are trading at deeply distressed levels. Markets in Hong Kong were closed Monday for a public holiday.

Write to Anniek Bao at [email protected]

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The Bonds That Cried Major Default Risk | Sidnaz Blog


The villagers in “The Boy Who Cried Wolf,” bored of their shepherd boy’s constant false alarms, refuse to come to his aid when a wolf finally does appear. There may be a lesson in the fable for investors in Chinese property giant Evergrande and the country’s real-estate market more broadly.

Heavily leveraged Evergrande is in the midst of yet another financial squeeze. The company announced Sunday and Monday that it has recently sold almost $1 billion of holdings in two companies—internet services firm HengTen Networks and smaller real-estate developer China Calxon. Fitch Ratings cut Evergrande’s credit rating Tuesday from B+ to B, noting the company’s seemingly limited access to capital markets and growing dependence on less stable shadow-banking loans.

The current wobble has been unfolding for three weeks: It began when regulators started examining the relationship between Evergrande and Shengjing Bank, a regional lender in which the property developer has built a large stake.

Evergrande’s March 2022 bond currently yields a little over 20%, up from as low as 8.6% in late May. And the company’s share price is down almost 30% year-to-date, making it one of the few companies anywhere trading at the depressed levels of March 2020.

An Evergrande building in Huai’an, Jiangsu province.



Photo:

SIPA Asia via ZUMA Press

Close watchers of Evergrande can rightly say that it is not the company’s first financial tremor. Nor is it its second or third. Spikes in the company’s bond yields are relatively common. Optimists note that after a $1.5 billion bond maturing on June 28, it has no offshore bonds due for the rest of the year.

But there are many risks for Evergrande outside of what is technically recognized as debt. This month the company said it would repay a small amount of overdue commercial acceptance bills, a form of short-term IOUs on which the firm is heavily reliant. The company’s accounts payable, the balance sheet category that covers those liabilities, ran to about $95 billion at the end of 2020. That has more than tripled in five years.

The company’s 2020 results also make clear that the amount it owes to home buyers who’ve paid large deposits for unbuilt apartments rose rapidly in 2020. Fitch notes that while contracted sales have been rising, average selling prices have fallen, dropping 13% in 2020 and 7% in 2021 so far. That boosts cash inflows in the short term, but means even greater obligations and less money to pay for them in the long term.

And unlike the company’s September 2020 squeeze, when bond yields surged over concerns regarding its relationship with a handful of strategic investors, debts owed to thousands of small businesses and households can’t be so easily extended.

The bond market has told many tall tales of imminent defaults for Evergrande, and none have materialized. Perhaps these latest rumblings will come to nothing—but that doesn’t mean the wolf won’t eventually get his dinner.

Write to Mike Bird at [email protected]

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J.P. Morgan Asset Management Acquires Timberland Investment Firm | Sidnaz Blog


One of the biggest names on Wall Street is getting into the timber business, and a big part of its plan to make money involves less logging.

J.P. Morgan Asset Management said Monday that it has acquired Campbell Global LLC, a Portland, Ore., firm that manages $5.3 billion worth of timberland on behalf of institutional investors, such as pensions and insurance companies.

The deal gives the $2.5 trillion asset manager a position in the booming market for forest-carbon offsets, tradable assets that are created by paying landowners to not cut down trees and leave them standing to sponge carbon from the atmosphere. Offsets are used by companies to scrub emissions from their internal carbon ledgers, which track progress toward pollution-reduction goals.

Terms of the deal with Campbell’s seller,

BrightSphere Investment Group Inc.,

weren’t disclosed.

Many of the world’s largest companies, including

Apple Inc.,

Microsoft Corp.

and

Royal Dutch Shell

PLC, have promised investors they will reduce their carbon footprints. Many emissions are unavoidable for global businesses, which has made standing timber a hot commodity.

J.P. Morgan


JPM 1.51%

is betting that carbon markets will add value to timberlands beyond the income they generate as a source for building products, said

Anton Pil,

the firm’s head of alternatives.

“We wanted to play an active role in carbon-offset markets as they’re developed,” Mr. Pil said. “We want to be viewed as a global leader in the carbon-sequestration market.”

Other big names are angling for similar status.

BP

PLC last year bought a controlling stake in Finite Carbon, the country’s largest forest-offset producer.

Salesforce.com Inc.

Chief Executive

Marc Benioff,

Microsoft and others recently invested in NCX, a firm that matches offset buyers with timberland owners willing to defer harvests for a fee.

Campbell Global oversees about 1.7 million acres of forestland in the U.S., New Zealand, Australia and Chile. About two-thirds of its 150 employees are involved in managing the forests, while the others are investment professionals, said

John Gilleland,

the firm’s chief executive.

Campbell Global for more than three decades has managed timberland to produce logs for lumber and pulp mills, but has moved into carbon markets in recent years.



Photo:

Campbell Global

Campbell for more than three decades has managed timberland to produce logs for lumber and pulp mills. In recent years, it has moved into carbon markets, selling offsets in California’s regulated cap-and-trade market as well as in the unregulated voluntary markets that have boomed with the rise of green investing.

“We do believe this is the future for this asset,” Mr. Gilleland said.

Timberland investing became popular in the 1980s after the tax code was made more favorable to owners of income-producing real estate, Congress allowed pensions to diversify beyond stocks and bonds and Wall Street analysts convinced forest-products companies to sell off their timberlands.

Investors reasoned that trees would grow, and thus gain value, no matter what the stock market did. Timberland was viewed as a good hedge against inflation.

Demand for lumber has skyrocketed during the pandemic, sending prices to all-time highs. This video explains what’s driving the lumber boom, who’s profiting, and why those growing the trees aren’t reaping the benefits. Illustration: Liz Ornitz/WSJ

But it hasn’t always been a good investment: At the same time timberland investing was gaining momentum, the federal government was paying landowners in the South to plant pine trees on worn-out farmland to boost crop prices. Decades later, the resulting surfeit of pine has pushed log prices to their lowest levels in decades even as the resurgent housing market has lifted prices for lumber and other wood products to records.

Investors such as the California Public Employees’ Retirement System have suffered big losses on southern timberland in recent years. Though log prices in the West still move in unison with those of lumber, timberland there is threatened by fires and wood-boring beetles. In the North, mills have closed and rendered many wood lots uneconomical to log and worth more leased to companies as carbon sinks.

Write to Ryan Dezember at [email protected]

Copyright ©2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8



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Private-Equity Group Nears Deal to Buy Medline for Over $30 | Sidnaz Blog


Medline is a little-known but major player in the field of medical equipment, with some $17.5 billion in annual sales.



Photo:

Kristoffer Tripplaar/Sipa USA/Associated Press

A group of private-equity firms including

Blackstone Group Inc.


BX 0.95%

is nearing a deal to acquire Medline Industries Inc. that would value the medical-supply giant at more than $30 billion, in one of the largest leveraged buyouts since the financial crisis, according to people familiar with the matter.

The deal could come together as soon as this weekend assuming the talks don’t fall apart, the people said. The Blackstone consortium includes

Carlyle Group Inc.


CG 0.63%

and Hellman & Friedman LLC. They beat out a rival bid from the private-equity arm of Canadian investing giant

Brookfield Asset Management Inc.,


BAM 0.12%

the people said.

Including debt, the transaction would be valued at about $34 billion, and north of $30 billion excluding borrowings, the people said. That could potentially make it the largest healthcare LBO ever.

Based in Northfield, Ill., family-owned Medline is a little-known but major player in the field of medical equipment. It manufactures and distributes equipment and supplies used in hospitals, surgery centers, acute-care and other medical facilities in over 125 countries. It has some $17.5 billion in annual sales, according to its website.

Brothers James and Jon Mills founded the company in 1966, taking it public in 1972. The brothers bought back the shares five years later. James’s son Charlie has been Medline’s CEO since 1997.

The family will remain the single largest shareholder in the company after the buyout and the management team will remain in place, some of the people said.

Write to Cara Lombardo at [email protected] and Miriam Gottfried at [email protected]

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