Chinese Multibillionaire Defaults On Retail Bonds Due To "Severe Cash Crunch"

Italy's Monte Paschi isn't the only institutions that is about to soak retail investors who thought that two bailouts for Italy's third biggest bank in two years wouldn't be followed by a third nationalization in year #3. According to the South China Morning Post, a Chinese multi-billionaire businessman has defaulted on bonds worth a paltry 100 million yuan ($14.4 million) that he raised from retail investors, citing "tight cash flow", according to reports.

Wu Ruilin, chairman of the Guangdong based telecom company Cosun Group, has a personal fortune of 98.2 billion yuan, or just over $14 billion, China Business News (CBN) reported citing an audit by a third party. That makes Wu wealthier than Baidu’s founder Robin Li, who has 98 billion yuan and is ranked 8th on the Hurun Rich List 2016.

And yet, despite the founder's personal fortune, according to a notice put up by the Guangdong Equity Exchange on Tuesday, two subsidiaries of Cosun Group are each defaulting on seven batches of privately raised bonds they issued in 2014. According to the notice, “the issuer had sent over a notice on December 15, claiming not to be able to make the payments on the bonds on time, due to short-term capital crunch.”

The good news, is that Wu is allegedly making unlimited guarantees for the principal and interest on the bonds with, what SCMP calls, "all of his legitimate wealth." Meanwhile, Zheshang Property and Casualty Insurance Company is responsible for the bonding insurance that guarantees scheduled payments of interest and principal on the bond, the notice said.

The bad news is that neither Wu nor the insurer had put the payments into the relevant account by 5 pm on Tuesday, according to the exchange notice. Although the bourse did not specify the value of the bonds, CBN said they were together worth around 100 million yuan.

SCMP adds that calls to Cosun went unanswered on Wednesday.

Philip Sun, an analyst with central China based JZ Securities, said it made no sense for Wu to “purposely defaults on the bonds” as it would “severely affect his credit and make institutional investors panic”, which would create bigger problems for him.

“Either he was building his business on high leverage, or he is determined to count on the insurer, but it is for sure he really has a severe cash crunch,” said Sun. CBN reported, somewhat redundantly, that some investors said they would sue Cosun and Wu Ruilin himself.

Still, one wonders if the (formerly) prosperous company of a Chinese billionaire is on the verge of bankruptcy due to a "severe cash crunch", just how bad is the cash crunch behind the scenes in China, and how much longer can the PBOC keep keep the charade that all is well going?