China property

China’s Greentown refutes cash crunch rumour after asking staff to speed up cash inflow amid tightened scrutiny

The top-end property developer says it has cash of US$7.5b on hand, a sufficient and safe level for daily operations

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 July, 2018, 9:01am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 July, 2018, 9:01am

Hangzhou-based developer Greentown China Holdings has played down speculations about a potential cash crunch after it urged sales staff to accelerate cash inflows amid a tightened regulatory environment.

The mainland’s top developer of high-end housing said it had cash of 50 billion yuan (US$7.5 billion) on hand, a sufficient and safe level to support daily operations.

“Management of cash flow, every six months, is a normal operation,” Greentown said in a statement on Monday. “The current cash position is enough for the company to pay back all debts that will expire in 12 months.”

The statement came after Bloomberg reported on Monday morning that Greentown has asked its employees to quicken the collection of accounts receivable, speed up sales and market some projects that are originally scheduled for 2019.

Before the midyear and year-end periods, companies would press their sales staff to collect accounts receivable as they compile interim and full-year earnings reports.

“Developers are now actively managing their cash flows to brave the rough weather in the second half of this year,” said Yin Ran, a Shanghai-based investor engaged in bond and private equity investments. “A limited access to financing and [government] interventions into pricing are likely to have a negative impact on developers’ operations.”

Citing memos distributed to employees, Bloomberg reported that Greentown was adopting the strategy of “selling early, selling more and selling fast”, where cash inflows from sales had become crucial in driving business operations.

Greentown the latest Chinese developer to expand overseas despite stricter capital controls

Other players including Country Garden Holdings, the mainland’s largest developer, were also making all-out efforts to quicken sales of their properties to generate more cash inflows.

Developers are now actively managing their cash flows to brave the rough weather in the second half of this year
Yin Ran, Shanghai-based investor

Beijing has been adamant in reining in the property sector over the past two years with stringent measures such as slowing the distribution of pre-sale licences and capping home prices.

The central and local governments stepped in to cap surging home prices in early 2016 following a housing buying spree in major cities such as Shanghai and Beijing, where prices more than doubled in less than 12 months.

Developers unable to generate enough cash inflows through property sales could face a capital crunch as Chinese regulators charged on to cut their leverage levels.

Greentown’s debt-to-equity ratio stood at 59 per cent at the end of last year, two percentage points lower than the average of China’s largest developers, according to Bloomberg.

The developer saw an operating cash outflow of 11.3 billion yuan in 2017, the biggest since its listing in 2006.

Greentown specialises in luxury properties, and it was the 10th-largest mainland developer in terms of contract sales last year. Its Hong Kong-listed shares jumped 5.7 per cent to HK$10.52 on Monday.