Chinese insurers sound the alarm over Vanke debt risks after property giant’s bonds, shares tumble on repayment concerns

Chinese insurers sound the alarm over Vanke debt risks after property giant’s bonds, shares tumble on repayment concerns

Chinese insurers sound the alarm over Vanke debt risks after property giant’s bonds, shares tumble on repayment concerns

Some of China’s largest insurers are sounding the alarm over the debt risks of China Vanke, according to people familiar with the matter, as shares and bonds of the firm – a major property developer – hit record lows on repayment concerns.

At least two Beijing-based insurers that farmed out annuity investments late last week told their external portfolio managers to closely monitor Vanke’s credit risks. One life insurer also told its pension managers to curb exposure.

Meanwhile, Vanke, China’s second-biggest developer by sales, started a new round of negotiations with state insurers to extend maturities of some private borrowings.

Vanke is the latest developer to face scrutiny from investors and creditors, following defaults by Country Garden Holdings and China Evergrande Group. Vanke is one of the few large property developers in China that has not defaulted and is seen as a bellwether for the government’s support of the sector.

Vanke shares closed down 7.1 per cent in Hong Kong, at their lowest level ever, and fell 4.7 per cent in Shenzhen, their biggest drop since December 2022. Some of Vanke’s yuan bonds also hit their lowest levels, according to Bloomberg-compiled prices, while its 3.975 per cent dollar bond due in 2027 fell by more than 6 cents on the dollar to 47.3 cents.

Monday’s declines across the board were fuelled by recent reports that the company is negotiating with lenders to delay payments, the latest cause of concern for its repayment abilities. In December, at least two state-backed Chinese insurers agreed to give Vanke more room on private debt payment, Bloomberg reported.

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“The weak contracted sales across the sector in February somehow spooked the worry further on Vanke’s cash flow, pressuring the bond, equity prices,” said Calvin Leung, an analyst at Jefferies Hong Kong. Expectations of more government policy help remain low as a turnaround in home sales is unlikely, Leung said.

In December, at least two state-backed Chinese insurers agreed to give Vanke more room on private debt payment, Bloomberg reported.

“This round of rumours has materially damaged the confidence level on Vanke in an already shaky market,” said Iris Chen, a credit desk analyst at Nomura International. But there should still be some sort of support against the backdrop of government policy, she added.

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Over the weekend, New China Asset Management said in a statement that it has maintained normal business ties with the developer, in response to unspecified recent reports about the two companies.

Vanke said on Friday that it plans to raise about 1.16 billion yuan (US$161 million) in an infrastructure real estate investment trust that will list in Shenzhen.

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