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China Vanke raises HK$7.8b in share sale

Shanghai

CHINA Vanke Co. sold HK$7.8 billion (S$1.34 billion) of shares to pay down overseas debt, highlighting the potential for a wave of equity raising by Chinese developers.

The sale at HK$29.68 per share represented a 5 per cent discount to Wednesday's closing price, the company said on Thursday.

The stock surged as much as 7.5 per cent in Hong Kong.

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Guangzhou R&F Properties Co. and Beijing Capital Land Ltd. may be among the next to sell shares after advancing plans in recent months, according to Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Kristy Hung.

For Vanke, China's biggest listed property developer, the move highlights the strength of its balance sheet and boosts the liquidity of its H-shares, a goal the company flagged last year.

"This is potentially another avenue for Chinese developers to shore up their balance sheets, as looming debt maturity and slowing home sales weigh on their liquidity," Ms Hung said. It may be "a relief for developers with high leverage like R&F".

Vanke has a stronger balance sheet and lower leverage than peers such as China Evergrande Group. The share sale will cut Vanke's net debt to equity by 4 percentage points to 27 per cent, the lowest among China developers tracked by Bloomberg Intelligence. The average stands at 80 per cent.

Debt costs have come down for Chinese builders in the dollar bond market this year, though they're still much higher than the all-time lows reached in 2017, according to an ICE BofAML index.

China Vanke's Hong Kong subsidiary has nine offshore bonds outstanding totalling US$5.5 billion, and a five-year overseas syndicated loan of HK$5.63 billion due in 2022, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The company last tapped the international bond market with a US$600 million issue at a coupon of 4.2 per cent in February. Its overseas bonds pay rates ranging from 2.5 per cent to 5.35 per cent, the data shows. BLOOMBERG