The embattled Chinese homebuilder Country Garden said on Wednesday that it lost $7.1 billion in the first six months of the year, intensifying the pressure on China’s biggest property developer as it teeters on the verge of financial collapse.
Country Garden’s losses, and the accompanying cash crunch, are the latest sign of the deepening crisis in China’s real estate sector, where years of excessive borrowing have left many of the country’s biggest developers awash with debt they have struggled to repay. As China’s economy has slowed in recent months, an already sluggish real estate market has ground to a standstill, pushing Country Garden, which has roughly $187 billion in total debt, to the brink.
Country Garden’s six-month net loss of 51.5 billion yuan compared with a profit of 1.9 billion yuan in the same period last year. It had warned this month that it expected to post a big loss, citing an “unprecedented difficult period” for China’s property industry.
The company said revenue rose in the first half, but seemed to acknowledge that it discounted properties to maintain sales volumes and ensure a “smooth business operation.” Earlier, the company said contracted sales in July fell 60 percent from a year earlier.
In a statement, Country Garden said it was caught off-guard by “the profundity and persistence of the market’s downtrend.” It also said the company had invested disproportionately in properties in smaller cities where the downturn has been more severe.
“All these shortcomings have led to the most severe difficulty that the company has ever faced since its establishment,” Country Garden said.
Earlier on Wednesday, the company said it would raise $34 million by issuing new shares. Country Garden said it planned to issue 350.6 million shares at 77 Hong Kong cents apiece next week. The proceeds would go to a subsidiary of Hong Kong-based Kingboard Holdings Limited, a materials and chemicals manufacturer with a property division to which Country Garden owes money.
Country Garden said it owed the Kingboard Holdings subsidiary around $200 million, to be paid in installments, with the final payment due in December.
The new shares in Country Garden represent about 1.3 percent of the company’s existing shares. It is selling the shares at a 15 percent discount to Tuesday’s closing price. Country Garden’s stock is down 67 percent this year.
Last week, Country Garden said it had reached an agreement to sell a 27 percent stake in a commercial and residential property development in Guangzhou in southern China, for $177 million.
Country Garden, the biggest seller of homes in China for the last six years, was once hailed as a fortunate survivor in China’s troubled property sector. It had avoided the liquidity crisis that took hold in the industry after the government in 2020 limited developers’ ability to borrow money, an effort to prevent a property bubble. In the past three years, several dozen property developers have defaulted, including Evergrande, the now bankrupt developer that once challenged Country Garden for industry supremacy.
But now Country Garden is the one scrambling to stave off collapse. It missed two interest payments to international bondholders this month. The company has until next week to repay those bondholders or it will be in default to creditors. It is also negotiating with creditors to delay repayment of a $350 million domestic bond, due later this week, until 2026.