China Evergrande to sell $1.5B stake in Shengjing Bank to state firm

After missing bond interest payment last week, Evergrande faces big test Wednesday with the deadline of another coupon payment of $47.5 million

HONG KONG - Cash-strapped China Evergrande Group said on Wednesday it plans to sell a 9.99 billion yuan ($1.5 billion) stake it owns in Shengjing Bank Co Ltd to a state-owned asset management company as it scrambles to raise funds.

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After missing a bond interest payment last week, Evergrande faces a big test on Wednesday with the deadline of another coupon payment of $47.5 million that investors are watching closely.

Evergrande has rapidly become China's biggest corporate headache as it teeters between a messy meltdown with far-reaching impacts, a managed collapse or the less likely prospect of a bailout by Beijing.

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The 1.75 billion shares, representing 19.93% of the issued share capital of the bank, will be sold for 5.70 yuan apiece to Shenyang Shengjing Finance Investment Group Co Ltd, a state-owned enterprise involved in capital and asset management, China Evergrande said in a filing to the Hong Kong bourse.

Shenyang Shengjing's stake in the bank will be increased to 20.79% after the deal to become the bank’s largest shareholder.

The logo of China Evergrande Group seen on the Evergrande Center in Shanghai, China September 22, 2021. REUTERS/Aly Song (REUTERS/Aly Song  / Reuters Photos)

"The company’s liquidity issue has adversely affected Shengjing Bank in a material way," Evergrande Chairman Hui Ka Yan said in the statement.

"The introduction of the purchaser, being a state-owned enterprise, will help stabilise the operations of Shengjing Bank and at the same time, help increase and maintain the value of the 14.75% interest in Shengjing Bank retained by the company."

Beijing is prodding government-owned firms and state-backed property developers to purchase some of embattled China Evergrande Group's assets, people with knowledge of the matter told Reuters this week.

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Shengjing Bank demanded that all net proceeds from the disposal be applied to settle the relevant financial liabilities of the group due to Shengjing Bank, Evergrande said.

Its stake in the bank would be reduced to 14.75% from 34.5%.