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Evergrande's liquidation: Unravelling a complex saga in the Chinese property market

Evergrande's liquidation: Unravelling a complex saga in the Chinese property market


Ongoing Evergrande saga takes a new turn as Hong Kong orders liquidation, raising questions about its impact

In the latest twist of the ongoing saga surrounding Evergrande, the beleaguered Chinese property giant has been ordered into liquidation by a Hong Kong judge, marking a significant development in the prolonged financial turmoil that has gripped the company. Robin Harris, Head of APAC at Ocorian, a specialist provider of fund, corporate, and fiduciary services, sheds light on the implications of this decision.

Judge Linda Chan's order signals a turning point, as previous attempts to restructure Evergrande have failed to bring about meaningful change. Despite numerous pledges, the property developer has been unable to satisfy creditors, with overseas companies alone holding tens of billions of dollars in investments.

However, the impact of the liquidation order is not uniform across Evergrande's vast empire. The order applies solely to Evergrande's Hong Kong entity, limiting the scope of liquidation to a fraction of the company's overall assets and liabilities. Most of Evergrande's projects are situated in mainland China, leaving the primary bulk of its operations beyond the reach of this particular order.

Nevertheless, the order is not without potency. Appointed liquidators now possess a legal right to access Evergrande's books and records, providing insight into the extent of the liabilities facing the company. Given that Evergrande's Hong Kong entity has served as an offshore financing mechanism, this process may unveil the magnitude of foreign investments and the number of creditors seeking restitution.

The 2021 agreement between China and Hong Kong allows for mutual recognition of insolvency orders, but the practicality of this process remains uncertain. The requirement for Hong Kong liquidators to seek approval from pilot courts in China adds a layer of complexity. Mainland Chinese courts may be reluctant to acknowledge offshore liquidators, posing a significant challenge to those appointed in Hong Kong.

Navigating Evergrande's intricate financial landscape, even when limited to its Hong Kong entity, will be a time-consuming task. The complexities of jurisdictional laws and the company's vast operations make the liquidation process daunting. The effectiveness of liquidation may be compromised, especially considering the challenges in gaining control of Chinese subsidiaries and negotiating with creditors in the core segment of Evergrande's business.

Despite the legal hurdles, Evergrande remains committed to its domestic projects, pledging to continue construction and fulfil obligations to millions of homebuyers awaiting completion. As this financial saga unfolds, it remains uncertain whether the Hong Kong liquidation order marks the beginning of the end or simply the end of the beginning in Evergrande's tumultuous tale. Only time will reveal the true trajectory of this complex and enduring financial saga.