With the country’s largest developers fighting to stave off a fresh round of defaults, China’s central bank chief huddled with representatives from several private builders late last week to assure them that help is on the way.
In a meeting on Thursday which included representatives of Longfor Properties, CIFI Holdings and Midea Real Estate, along with major commercial banks and other private giants, Pan Gongsheng, governor of the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), emphasised that the finance industry needs to support private enterprises and underlined the government’s commitment to providing liquidity for cash-strapped industries, according to a notice on the bank’s website.
“It is necessary to accurately implement differentiated housing credit policies, meet the reasonable financing needs of private real estate enterprises, and promote the stable and healthy development of the real estate industry,” Pan was quoted as saying in the official statement.
The PBOC chief’s meeting with the industry chieftains came after China’s Politburo on 24 July announced plans to change real estate policies, with the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development on 27 July having announced plans to ease purchase restrictions on homeowners seeking to buy additional homes and reducing downpayment requirements for first-time buyers.
Support for Sliding Developers
The central bank leadership organised the meeting as a symposium bringing private business leaders together with top banks, with the government seeking to reassure markets and promote looser lending to the real estate lending as declining home sales continue to undermine developer liquidity. The head of eight private enterprises were invited to the get-together, according to an account in ThePaper.cn.
In the session, representatives of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and China Construction Bank, two of the country’s largest lenders, promised to lead implementation of revised policies and improve the stability of private sector loans, expand credit for small and micro enterprises, and support bond underwriting and issuance for private enterprises, per the local news account.
“Pan Gongsheng emphasized that the private economy is an important achievement of the development of the socialist market economy and an important force to promote economic and social development. It is the duty of the financial sector to support the development of private enterprises, and it is also an important part of the structural reform of the financial supply side,” the PBOC statement noted.
The vows of relief were announced in the same week that Country Garden Holdings, China’s largest developer by sales in 2022 was forced to cancel a reported equity sale plan that would have brought in HK$2.34 billion ($300 million) in cash as it faces down bond obligations of $2.9 billion during the final months of this year.
Following the failure of the equity sale Monday night, Country Garden shares sank by as much as 11 percent on Tuesday before closing last week down 17.8 percent.
One day after the PBOC, China’s National Development and Reform Council (NDRC), which serves as the country’s top policy-making body, together with other top government departments, held a press conference on Friday to underscore support for the private sector, including the housing industry, according to a statement on the organisation’s website.
At the press conference, Yuan Da, NDRC deputy secretary-general and director of the general affairs department said the organisation would work to defuse risks in key areas.
The NDRC will, “Continue to implement phased policies such as supporting the work of “guaranteed delivery of buildings” and helping to dispose of non-performing assets. At the same time, strengthen policy reserves in terms of preventing and defusing internal and external risks and challenges, and firmly hold the bottom line of preventing systemic risks,” Yuan was quoted as saying.
In the same press conference, Zou Lan, director of the PBOC’s monetary policy department of the People’s Bank of China said the central bank will support the smooth operation of the real estate market.
Propping Up a Slowing Market
China’s bureaucrats are moving to prop up the market as consumers lose faith in what had been the world’s most enduring bull markets for housing. A report released by China Real Estate Information Corp on 1 August showed home sales taking their biggest drop in a year during July.
Contracted sales by China’s top 100 developers fell 33.1 percent last month, compared to a year earlier, and were down 33.5 percent compared to June’s total, the data provider said.
During recent days some of China’s largest cities have rushed to lower buying restrictions on housing and to expand the availability of credit for homebuyers.
On Thursday, the Municipal Housing Security and Real Estate Administration of Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan province, together with related agencies unveiled a raft of new policies to support the housing market which included suspension of home purchase restrictions and lower interest rates for mortgages.