Indebted Chinese developer Evergrande denies bankruptcy claims

Beijing (AFP) –


Property giant Evergrande said Monday it is facing "unprecedented difficulties" but denied rumours that it is about to go bankrupt, as the Chinese conglomerate battles to reassure investors and bring down its huge debt pile.

The Hong Kong-listed developer has run up a mountain of liabilities totalling more than $300 billion after years of borrowing to fund rapid growth.

The group was downgraded by two credit rating agencies last week while its shares tumbled below their 2009 listing price.

There have been reports of protests from homebuyers across the country fearing for the safety of their investments, prompting Evergrande to try to defuse tensions.

"The recent comments that have appeared online about Evergrande's restructuring are completely false," the company said in a statement on its website.

It went on to say the company "is indeed facing unprecedented difficulties at the moment, but it will firmly carry out its main corporate responsibilities, fully dedicate itself towards the resumption of work and industry".

The group will "protect housing transactions (and) intends to do everything possible to restore normal business operations, and fully guarantee customers' legal rights and interests," the statement added.

Unconfirmed videos on Chinese social media showed protests in several cities, including outside the group's headquarters in the southern tech hub of Shenzhen on Monday, as angry homebuyers voiced concerns about their new-build properties or demanded their money back.

A report last week by Capital Economics said Evergrande had 1.4 million properties it has committed to completing, as of the end of June.

Some creditors have demanded immediate payback of loans, Bloomberg News reported earlier this month.

Evergrande has already sold stakes in some of its wide-ranging assets and offered steep discounts to offload apartments, but still reported a 29 percent slide in profit for the first half of the year.