Chinese developer CIFI dumps assets to inject funds as liquidity evaporates in property downturn

Heavily-indebted Chinese property developer CIFI Holding Group extended its asset selling campaign with another loss-making deal, as it grapples with a liquidity crunch and seeks to “survive and sustain under the crisis”.

In its latest disposal, the company raised 436 million yuan (US$61 million) by selling the 49 per cent stake it owned through a subsidiary, Beijing Xuhui Shunxin Real Estate, in Tianjin Chuangda Real Estate Development. The buyer, Shijiazhuang Ronglang Enterprise Management Services, holds the remaining 51 per cent equity interest.

The loss of 28 million yuan, from the disposal, “is not expected to have immediate material impact on the financial position of the group”, the company said.

This brings the total funds raised from asset disposals and announced this week to 657 million yuan, following the deal unveiled on Monday.

CIFI Holdings (Group) headquarters in Shanghai. Photo: Cifi Holdings

“The property market in the PRC has been facing unprecedented challenges and the property developers are encountering liquidity pressure,” Cifi’s notice to the stock exchange said. “Enhancing liquidity are the crucial strategies for market peers to survive and sustain under the crisis.”

“While a loss is expected to be recorded, the disposal will enable the group to revitalise available funds under the increasingly credit tightening market and reallocate resources to improve the efficiency of capital use and enhance the group’s liquidity to ensure the delivery of properties and continuation of its business operations,” it added.

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On Monday, another CIFI subsidiary, Liaocheng Xuyin, sold a 51 per cent stake in its Dezhou residential project, located in Shandong province, to Shandong Zhongzheng for 221 million yuan. The company posted a loss of 215 million yuan on that deal.

CIFI’s shares slipped 3.6 per cent to HK$0.26 per share on Friday, just off an all-time low of HK$0.19 seen on October 31.

The stock has plunged by 75.9 per cent this year, down 96.4 per cent from the peak struck in April 2021. Its capitalisation has cratered from an all-time high of around HK$64 billion (US$8.2 billion) to HK$2.76 billion, according to Bloomberg data.

To solve the liquidity crisis, CIFI chairman Lin Zhong and his family have put up five luxury homes for sale in Hong Kong’s Southern district, even as the city’s property market grapples with a downtrend.

Shares of the debt-stricken property developer plunged by the most on record after trading resumed in September, following a six-month suspension due to a delay in filing financial results.

In its delayed earnings release, the company said it had swung to a 9 billion yuan loss in the first half of the year, reversing from a profit of 1.9 billion yuan in the year ago period. Its annual loss was 13 billion yuan in 2022. But the company’s long-term liabilities shrank to 34.8 billion yuan by the end of June, from 41.3 billion yuan at the end of 2022, while its working capital dropped to 30.6 billion yuan from 49 billion yuan in the same period, indicating balance-sheet downsizing.

CIFI’s contracted sales for the six months ending in June shrank 33.6 per cent year on year to 41.94 billion yuan, “due to the tough business environment in the real estate industry”, the company said.

Banks have stated their intention to continue enhance support for non state-owned real estate enterprises.

Everbright said in a statement on Thursday it is actively consulting several private and mixed ownership real estate companies, including Vanke, Country Garden, and Midea Real Estate, to fund approved projects.

“This indicates a positive sign if banks can really lend to more private developers especially those facing liquidity issues,” according to Raymond Cheng, managing director, head of China and HK property at CGS-CIMB Securities.


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