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Boss of debt-ridden Chinese property giant Evergrande sells $1.1BILLION worth of assets

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The boss of debt-ridden Chinese property giant Evergrande has sold $1.1billion worth of assets including jets, art and Hong Kong flats under order from Beijing amid fears the firm’s collapse could spark a global financial meltdown.

Chinese authorities told the company’s chairman Hui Ka Yan, 63, to use some of his personal wealth to help pay bondholders, two separate people with knowledge of the matter told Reuters last month.

Evergrande is scrambling to meet its debt obligations, with Hui Ka Yan freeing up funds from luxury assets, according to state-owned China Business News on Tuesday, citing anonymous sources close to the matter.

Evergrande’s troubles in meeting bond repayments have rattled markets and left many of its investors, creditors and suppliers in financial chaos.

Xu has been injecting funds into the company since the beginning of July.

Chinese authorities told the chairman of Developer China Evergrande Group Hui Ka Yan (pictured in 2017, file photo), 63, to use some of his personal wealth to help pay bondholders

Chinese authorities told the chairman of Developer China Evergrande Group Hui Ka Yan (pictured in 2017, file photo), 63, to use some of his personal wealth to help pay bondholders

It has been used to ‘maintain the basic operations of his huge business empire,’ the paper reported, such as paying staff salaries, interest payments and some bonds and cash that is owed to investors in Evergrande’s wealth product. 

It has also gone towards finishing property projects in China.

The outlet wrote: ‘So far Xu Jiayin has been personally raising money to continue the life of Evergrande.’

Guo Hui, whose cleaning business is owed more than 18 million yuan ($2.8 million) by Evergrande, had to sell his Porsche Cayenne and an apartment to raise cash and pay debts.

‘He should be selling his things,’ Guo told Reuters. ‘He had no choice once the authorities made him.’

Hui pledged one of his Hong Kong mansions of around 5,000 square feet in The Peak, Hong Kong’s most prestigious residential enclave with sweeping views over the city’s gleaming skyscrapers, for a loan from China Construction Bank in October, according to a filing with Hong Kong’s Land Registry.

The property is worth around HK$800 million ($103 million), an estate agent told Reuters and local media said it was pledged to raise about HK$300 million to repay an overdue Evergrande bond.

The tycoon, ranked as Asia’s wealthiest man in 2017, pledged two other luxury houses in the same development to Orix Asia Capital Ltd on Nov 8. for undisclosed amounts, according to the Land Registry. Local media outlet HK01 said on Tuesday the total amount raised was HK$821 million.

One of the properties is worth HK$800 million, the estate agent said, while the other one is bigger and according to HK01 is worth HK$1 billion.

Pictured: Villa del Mare, one of the homes owned by the chairman of Developer China Evergrande Group Hui Ka Yan, in Australia. He has been told to sell his assets to help pay for the debt obligations of the property giant

Pictured: Villa del Mare, one of the homes owned by the chairman of Developer China Evergrande Group Hui Ka Yan, in Australia. He has been told to sell his assets to help pay for the debt obligations of the property giant

Hui and Evergrande did not respond to requests for comment regarding the properties on The Peak.

China’s State Council Information Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Raised by his grandmother in a rural village, Hui founded Evergrande in 1996 in southern Guangzhou city, supplying low-priced homes and building a fortune.

Xu (pictured) has been injecting funds into the company since the beginning of July

Xu (pictured) has been injecting funds into the company since the beginning of July

He developed a passion for calligraphy, art and Koi carp – fish seen as a symbol of good luck and fortune for which he paid tens of millions of yuan, according to a source with direct knowledge of the matter.

Under Hui’s orders, Evergrande has been selling some art and calligraphy to raise fresh capital, said the source. The source declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the situation.

Reuters could not immediately determine how much had been raised by selling the art pieces or what the money has been used for.

Evergrande did not respond to a request for comment regarding the art sale.

The source also said Evergrande sold two Gulfstream jets in recent weeks.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month Evergrande raised more than $50 million by selling two of its private jets to American aircraft investors.

Hui also owns a 60-metre yacht called ‘Event’ estimated to be worth $60 million, as well as a private Airbus jet, according to Chinese media reports.

Reuters could not independently verify the ownership of Hui’s yacht and private jet.

Hui and Evergrande did not respond to requests for comment regarding his aircraft, yacht and other assets.

While Hui’s net worth has plunged over the past few years from around $45 billion in 2017, he is still estimated to be worth $11.3 billion, according to the Hurun China Rich List 2021, released last month.

But even as he moves to sell some of his personal assets, the proceeds raised pale in comparison to Evergrande’s liabilities of more than $300 billion, equivalent roughly to the gross domestic product of South Africa.

After Evergrande last week again averted a destabilising default with a last minute bond payment, its next deadline is December 28, with coupon payments totalling more than $255 million due. 

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Former US presidential candidate Bob Dole dies aged 98

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Bob Dole, the long-time Kansas senator who was the Republican nominee for president in 1996, has died from lung cancer. In a statement, the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, founded by Dole’s wife, said: “It is with heavy hearts we announced that Senator Robert Joseph Dole died earlier this morning in his sleep. At his death at age 98 he had served the United States of America faithfully for 79 years.”

In late February, Dole announced that he had advanced lung cancer and would begin treatment. Visiting him, President Joe Biden called Dole his “close friend”.

On Sunday the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, like Biden a Democrat, ordered flags at the Capitol to be flown at half-staff.

Born in Russell, Kansas in 1923, Dole served in the US infantry in the second world war, suffering serious wounds in Italy and winning a medal for bravery.

His wounds cost him use of his right arm but he entered state politics and soon became a longtime Republican power-broker, representing Kansas in the US House of Representatives from 1961 to 1969 and in the Senate until 1996. He had spells as chairman of the Republican National Committee and as Senate minority and majority leader.

In 1976 he was the Republican nominee for vice-president to Gerald Ford, in an election the sitting president lost to Jimmy Carter. Two decades later, aged 73, Dole won the nod to take on Bill Clinton.

Against the backdrop of a booming economy, the Democrat won a second term with ease, by 379 – 159 in the electoral college and by nine points in the popular vote, the third-party candidate Ross Perot costing Dole support on the right.

Dole received both the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest US civilian honours.

In the Trump years and after, Dole came widely to be seen as a figure from another time in Republican politics.

On Sunday, the political consultant Tara Setmeyer, a member of the anti-Trump Lincoln Project, tweeted: “I cast my first ever vote for president for Bob Dole in 1996. A war hero with a sharp sense of humor ? another piece of a once respectable GOP gone.”

However, Dole remained a loyal Republican soldier, telling USA Today this summer that though Donald Trump “lost the election, and I regret that he did, but they did”, and though he himself was “sort of Trumped out”, he still considered himself “a Trumper”.

Dole called Biden “a great, kind, upstanding, decent person”, though he said he leaned too far left.

He also said: “I do believe [America has]lost something. I can’t get my hand on it, but we’re just not quite where we should be, as the greatest democracy in the world. And I don’t know how you correct it, but I keep hoping that there will be a change in my lifetime.”

On Sunday, Jaime Harrison, the chair of the Democratic National Committee, said: “Sending heartfelt condolences and prayers to the family of Senator Bob Dole. We honor his service and dedication to the nation. May he Rest In Peace.”

– Guardian

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Bournemouth is the most popular coastal town for buyers, says Rightmove

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The most popular seaside location for house hunters this year has been Bournemouth, new research has revealed.   

Rightmove identified the top ten most in-demand coastal areas in Britain, based on the highest number of buyer enquiries via its website.

The Dorset resort is the most popular, followed by Southampton, Hampshire and Brighton, East Sussex, with the South coast dominating the list. 

Rightmove has identified the top ten most in-demand coastal areas in Britain

Rightmove has identified the top ten most in-demand coastal areas in Britain

The top ten list also includes Blackpool, Lancashire – a coastal resort known for its amusement arcades and donkey rides – where prices have increased 8 per cent in the past year to £137,301.

It compares to the average house price in the top 10 locations, which rose 6 per cent this year. 

It is just ahead of the national average rise of 5 per cent, from £318,188, to £333,037. These figures are based on an average between January and November 2020 compared to January-November 2021. 

At the same time, Rightmove provided a list of coastal locations that have seen the biggest increases in house prices this year.

Padstow in Cornwall topped that list of coastal hotspots, with prices rising 20 per cent this year, from from £548,382, to £658,588.

The most popular seaside location for house hunters is Bournemouth (pictured), according to Rightmove

The most popular seaside location for house hunters is Bournemouth (pictured), according to Rightmove

AVERAGE ASKING PRICES IN COASTAL HOTSPOTS 2021
Rank Location Average asking price 2021 Average asking price 2020 Average asking price increase 2021 vs 2020
1 Padstow, Cornwall £658,588 £548,382 20%
2 Whitby, North Yorkshire £254,218 £217,620 17%
3 St. Ives, Cornwall £473,161 £411,484 15%
4 Porthcawl, South Glamorgan, Bridgend (County of) £307,051 £270,505 14%
5 Mablethorpe, Lincolnshire £173,612 £153,140 13%
6 Newquay, Cornwall £317,846 £281,204 13%
7 Filey, North Yorkshire £214,617 £189,914 13%
8 Pwllheli, Gwynedd £222,607 £197,213 13%
9 Brixham, Devon £299,127 £266,604 12%
10 Preston, Paignton, Devon £303,684 £272,029 12%
Source: Rightmove       

It was followed by Whitby, in North Yorkshire, which came second, with prices rising 17 per cent from £217,620, to £254,218. 

Cornwall’s St. Ives is in third place, with average values rising 15 per cent from £411,484 to £473,161.

A house with a good sea view and location will cost you, as it will probably be worth at least 40 per cent more than the equivalent inland, if not more.

Robin Gould – Prime Purchase 

Robin Gould, director of buying agency Prime Purchase, says: ‘Many people love the idea of living beside the sea, even more so since the pandemic struck and we have all been spending more time outside. 

‘However, a house with a good sea view and location will cost you, as it will probably be worth at least 40 per cent more than the equivalent inland, if not more. 

‘A frontline house is arguably worth 30 per cent more than one immediately behind it.

‘I recently bought a “frontline” house near Polzeath in north Cornwall for a client, which was right on the cliff top with stunning coastal and sea views.  

‘Although the house itself was very “vanilla”, most people would have forgiven it anything to have that ever-changing, interesting view.’

Also among the most popular coastal locations for homebuyers is Brighton (pictured)

Also among the most popular coastal locations for homebuyers is Brighton (pictured)

QUICKEST COASTAL MARKETS TO FIND A BUYER
Rank Location Average asking price 2021 Average time to find a buyer 2021 (days) Change in time to find a buyer 2021 vs 2020 (days)
1 Saltcoats, Ayrshire £111,419 19 -35
2 Troon, Ayrshire £178,666 22 -8
3 Westward Ho, Bideford, Devon £297,138 24 -46
4 Ayr, Ayrshire £161,301 25 -15
5 Kessingland, Lowestoft, Suffolk £219,538 25 -22
6 Littlehampton, West Sussex £364,180 26 -28
7 Goring-By-Sea, Worthing, West Sussex £396,078 26 -23
8 Marske-By-The-Sea, Redcar, Cleveland £181,882 28 -15
9 Canvey Island, Essex £308,261 28 -23
10 Weymouth, Dorset £283,585 29 -25
Source: Rightmove       

The red hot property market this year has translated into the time it takes to find a buyer hitting a record low number of days.

The average time find a buyer across the whole of 2021 is 44 days, 15 days quicker than the average in 2020.

Saltcoats in Ayrshire is this year’s quickest coastal location to find a buyer, at 19 days on average.

Troon in Ayrshire came second at 22 days, and Westward Ho, in Bideford, Devon was third at 24 days.

Calshot beach was included as Southampton, which features in the top ten most in-demand coastal areas in Britain

Calshot beach was included as Southampton, which features in the top ten most in-demand coastal areas in Britain

THE INCREASE IN COASTAL SEARCHES IN 2021
Rank Location Average asking price Increase in searches 2021 vs 2020
1 Morecambe, Lancashire £164,424 32%
2 Blackpool, Lancashire £137,301 21%
3 Great Yarmouth, Norfolk £194,066 15%
4 Swansea, Wales £180,603 15%
5 Saltburn-By-The-Sea, Cleveland £227,611 15%
6 Southampton, Hampshire £249,053 14%
7 Llandudno, Conwy (County of) £235,316 13%
8 Saundersfoot, Pembrokeshire, South West Wales £319,587 12%
9 Southport, Merseyside £215,838 12%
10 Scarborough, North Yorkshire £191,879 12%
Source: Rightmove     

Meanwhile, Morecambe, Lancashire saw the biggest jump in coastal buyer searches compared to last year, up 32 per cent, followed by Blackpool, up 21 per cent, and Great Yarmouth, up 15 per cent.

Tim Bannister, of Rightmove, said: ‘After a year where coastal locations really captured the imagination of British buyers, it’s interesting to reflect on how the overall picture looks at the end of the year.

‘In terms of average asking price growth, homeowners in Cornwall and Devon are the real winners this year, with properties in some areas outpacing the national average, though this does mean that it is increasingly difficult for some locals to get onto the ladder.

‘The speed of this year’s market really is astounding, seen in the time to find a buyer in some areas, particularly in Scotland.

‘Overall, this has been the year that either through changed lifestyle priorities, or the ability to work remotely, living in coastal areas has become possible for more buyers, which is reflected in the data we’re seeing in this study.’

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UK to require all incoming international travellers to take Covid-19 test

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All international travellers arriving into the UK will be required to take a pre-departure Covid-19 test – while Nigeria is being added to the British government’s travel red list, British health secretary Sajid Javid has said.

Mr Javid said the government had decided to move after receiving new data about the spread of the Omicron Covid-19 variant, which emerged in southern Africa.

“Since we have learned of this new variant our strategy has been to buy time. We have always said we will act swiftly should new data require it,” he told broadcasters on Saturday.

“Over recent days we have learned of a significant number of growing cases linked to travel with Nigeria.

“There are 27 cases already in England and that’s growing. Nigeria now is second only to South Africa in terms of linked cases to Omicron.”

Mr Javid said that the number of cases of Omicron in Britain had now risen to about 160.

Under the new rules, from 4am on Monday only British and Irish nationals travelling from Nigeria will be allowed into the UK and they must isolate in a government-managed quarantine hotel on arrival.

And from 4am on Tuesday, anyone travelling to the UK from countries not on the red list will be required to take a pre-departure Covid-19 test a maximum of 48 hours before leaving, regardless of their vaccination status. – PA/Reuters

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