How Evergrande’s Billionaire Founder Skirted Latest Crisis

How Evergrande’s Billionaire Founder Skirted Latest Crisis

Hui Ka Yan, the rags to riches billionaire who runs China’s most indebted developer, skirted his latest crisis in much the same way he always has: with help from wealthy friends and a government fearful of financial instability.

Hui’s China Evergrande Group sealed a deal last week with a group of investors that waived their right to force a $13 billion repayment by the property firm, avoiding a potential default that would have sent shock waves across financial markets in China and beyond.

The accord provides a much needed reprieve for Evergrande, though with $120 billion in debt — and at least $5.8 billion maturing in the next two months alone — China’s largest developer by revenue isn’t out of the woods yet. The firm still needs to drastically pare debt and sell assets, or analysts say it risks lurching back into another credit crunch.

The group photo taken Sept. 29 in Beijing to announce the agreement, with Hui standing in the middle of 35 smiling and clapping strategic investors, belies just how close the tycoon and his firm had been to the brink.