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Evergrande to sell $1.5bln stake in Shengjing Bank


The 1.75 billion shares will be sold for $0.88 apiece to Shenyang Shengjing Finance Investment Group Co Ltd

Scrambling to avoid defaulting on its debts, China Evergrande Group said on Wednesday it plans to sell a 9.99 billion yuan ($1.5 billion) stake in Shengjing Bank Co Ltd to a state-owned asset management company.

Shengjing Bank, one of the main lenders to Evergrande, had demanded that all net proceeds from the disposal be used to settle the financial liabilities of the property developer due to the lender, Evergrande said in an exchange filing.

That requirement suggests that Evergrande, which missed a bond interest payment last week, will be unable to use the funds for other purposes such as another interest payment to offshore bondholders of $47.5 million due on Wednesday.

The payment deadline is being closely watched by investors as the developer’s next big test in public markets. Shares of Evergrande rose 15% on Wednesday.

The 1.75 billion shares, representing 19.93% of the issued share capital of the bank, will be sold for 5.70 yuan ($0.88) apiece to Shenyang Shengjing Finance Investment Group Co Ltd, a state-owned enterprise involved in capital and asset management, Evergrande said in its filing.

Shenyang Shengjing’s stake in the bank will be increased to 20.79% after the deal to become the bank’s largest shareholder. Evergrande’s stake in the bank would be reduced to 14.75% from 34.5%.

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, he said.

As of the first half last year, the bank had 7 billion yuan ($1.08 billion) in loans to Evergrande, making it the third-largest onshore lender to the cash-strapped company, according to a report by brokerage CCB International last week, citing news reports.

The financial health of Shengjing Bank has come under the spotlight since May, after financial news outlet Caixin reported that China’s top banking watchdog was investigating connected transactions worth more than 100 billion yuan ($15.45 billion) between Evergrande and the bank.

On July 5, Evergrande said in a statement its financial business with Shengjing complied with legal requirements.

Days after that announcement, China’s northern city of Shenyang, where Shengjing is based, encouraged local state-owned companies to increase stakes in the bank.

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