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Evergrande shares soar as trading in crisis-hit China firm resumes

<span>Photograph: Florence Lo/Reuters</span>
Photograph: Florence Lo/Reuters

Shares in the embattled Chinese property developer Evergrande jumped after trading resumed in Hong Kong after their suspension last week.

Shares soared more than 40% early on and were later 20% ahead. Trading in Evergrande and its property services and electric vehicle subsidiaries was suspended on Thursday, after a Bloomberg report that the company’s billionaire chairman and founder, Hui Ka Yan, was under police surveillance. On Friday, the company said he was being investigated over suspected “illegal crimes”.

“There is currently no other inside information in relation to the company that needs to be disclosed,” Evergrande said in a statement on Monday night.

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Related: Evergrande founder ‘being investigated for suspected crimes’

Last week’s trading halt came a month after a 17-month suspension in the shares was lifted. Evergrande’s woes have almost wiped out its stock market value, which has fallen nearly 99% since July 2020 to just HK$0.38 (£0.04).

China’s biggest property developer has struggled under a $300bn ($248bn) debt mountain and defaulted on its offshore debts in late 2021, when government officials tightened scrutiny on the real estate sector. It is at the heart of a crisis in China’s property sector, which has dragged down economic growth.

The crisis deepened last week when Evergrande’s main division in China, Hengda Real Estate, defaulted on 4bn yuan (£457m) of debt, and said it was unable to sell new debt due to an investigation, a vital part of its proposed restructuring plan.

“The trading resumption may have fuelled speculation that there may be progress in restructuring,” Linus Yip, the chief strategist at First Shanghai Securities, told Reuters.

Evergrande needs to obtain creditors’ approval for restructuring its offshore debt. The company filed for bankruptcy protection in the US in August to protect its assets while it tries to restructure its debts.

Reuters reported last week that a large Evergrande offshore creditor group was planning to join a liquidation court petition filed against the developer if it does not submit a new debt restructuring plan by the end of October.

Some analysts say that after the latest setbacks, the debt restructuring plan is likely to fail and the risks of the company being liquidated are increasing. The developer is due to have a court hearing in Hong Kong on 30 October on a winding-up petition that could force it into liquidation.

China’s property sector remains in turmoil, with other big developers failing to complete housing projects, triggering protests and mortgage boycotts from homebuyers.