Vietnam Property Debt Crisis Deepens as Major Developer Delays Bond Payment: Bloomberg
Cranes stand next to residential buildings under construction in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018. Photographer: Maika Elan/Bloomberg , Bloomberg
No Va Land Investment Group said earlier this week it will delay repayment of a 1 trillion dong ($42 million) note originally due on Feb. 12 and asked holders for an extension or to convert the principal into its real estate products. The developer said it’s seeking to work out a way within two months for it to pay off the debt.
Better known as Novaland, the company is a prominent addition to an expanding group of Vietnamese companies tardy with their bond payments. Fifty-four companies — many of them in the real estate sector — were late as of Jan. 31, up from six the month before, the Hanoi Stock Exchange said.
That suggests the cash crunch in the real estate sector is worsening after an anti-graft campaign spooked investors and new bond issuance plunged. With billions of dollars of bonds due this year, the industry’s woes risk triggering a broader crisis for the nation’s banking sector and economy.
“We believe this is just the beginning, and expect more debt extensions, restructurings and defaults,” said Xavier Jean, an analyst at S&P Global Ratings. “We are also watching for contagion effect” that could spill over to companies beyond the construction sector, he said.
The Southeast Asian nation’s property crisis started last year after officials issued a crackdown on corporate bond issuance following allegations of illegal activities, setting off a series of actions to rectify the property market. That included high-level arrests, inspections of brokerages tied to canceled issuances and an overhaul of the bond industry.
Real estate firms have 130 trillion dong of bonds maturing this year, according to a trade ministry publication last week citing estimates by the Ho Chi Minh City Real Estate Association.
Prior to Novaland’s latest announcement, industry peers Tan Hoang Minh Group, Van Thinh Phat Holdings Group and Sunshine Group had also sought to extend bond payment deadlines, according to Hanoi Stock Exchange data.
Novaland’s shares fell 1.7% on Thursday, after plunging 6.6% the previous day.
Vietnam’s Ministry of Finance proposed a decree amendment that would let companies extend corporate bond maturities by as long as two years to ease a funding shortage, a local newspaper reported in December. The draft revision, which has been submitted to the government, also includes allowing bond principal and interest to be converted into loans or other assets, according to the trade ministry’s publication last week.
“What will happen next - and whether cross default contagion is to occur or not - will remain as the big concern to the market right now,” according to an investor note by SSI Securities Corp. Wednesday. “What is a must right now is for the issuer to convene a bondholders’ meeting to discuss solutions, including redemption, further guarantees, or a waiver of default.”
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