Distressed debt investors have begun picking up the bonds of embattled developer China Evergrande Group (3333.HK), according to one fund manager and the Financial Times newspaper.
With liabilities of $305 billion, Evergrande has sparked concerns its cash crunch could spread through China’s financial system and reverberate globally, a worry that has eased with the Chinese central bank’s vow this week to protect homebuyers’ interests.
Evergrande has missed two bond interest payments in the past two weeks, bondholders have said, and its offshore debt, amounting to about $20 billion, trades at distressed levels.
The chief executive officer of United States fund manager Marathon Asset Management told Bloomberg television on Wednesday that he had recently purchased Evergrande bonds.
The Financial Times reported on Friday that U.S. funds Saba Capital Management, Redwood Capital Management, Silver Point Capital and Contrarian Capital Management had also been buyers, citing people familiar with the matter.
Neither Marathon nor the other four funds had an immediate response when contacted by Reuters outside New York business hours on Friday.
Evergrande dollar bonds have traded around or below 30 cents for a few weeks as the company struggled to pay suppliers and concern over its fate intensified.
“We’re in the marketplace buying Evergrande debt and we’ll continue to buy it at these very low prices,” Marathon’s Chairman and CEO Bruce Richards said on Bloomberg TV.
“The whole question is the price of acquisition … relative to what you think recovery value is,” he said. “You’re getting close to the point where we think it now makes sense for the first time. We’d never bought the credit until just this week.”
Reporting by Tom Westbrook; Editing by Kim Coghill