In two separate protests, mobs of China Evergrande Group customers and employees demonstrated this week as the world's largest developer faces soaring probabilities of default.
According to Bloomberg, the first demonstration was held in Guangzhou as more than 100 homebuyers attended a demonstration in front of the Nansha district's housing bureau Thursday wearing shirts that read "Resume construction, Evergrande." Many of these customers are becoming increasingly angry as multiple large condominium projects have been halted for months, including the massive 5,000 apartment complex called Evergrande Peninsula since May.
The developer is stuck between a rock and a hard place as it struggles to restart stalled construction work due to its whopping $148 billion owed in trade and other payables to suppliers as of June. The company has more than $300 billion in liabilities and has been dubbed "China's Lehman." However, Beijing gave the company a lifeline Thursday by renegotiating payment deadlines with banks and other creditors.
There are more than 1.5 million Evergrande customers who put down payments on yet-to-be-completed condo building projects. This week's protest could be an ominous sign of more social unrest to come.
Following the news of Evergrande's dollar bonds due in 2023 slumping to a new low this week of 23.81 cents on the dollar (slightly rebounding to 25 cents on the dollar Friday) - Evergrande has become one of the biggest financial risks in China - the epicenter of a potential default shockwave given its massive pile liabilities to banks, shadow lenders, companies, investors, vendors, and home buyers.
Other reports indicate employees of the developer demonstrated earlier this week. Some chanted: "Return my hard-earned money," referring to the company's suspension of interest payments to banks and payments to its wealth management products.
If the Evergrande story continues to deteriorate, don't be surprised if Beijing blinks again to save the company. The one thing the communist don't want right now is to create panic in the housing market as food inflation soars, a recipe for social unrest.