* Core profit up 89 percent at 20.81 bln yuan
* Total borrowings rise 80 pct to 535.1 bln yuan
* Total cash level highest since listing
(Recasts with debt pledge)
By Clare Jim
HONG KONG, March 28 China Evergrande Group
, sitting on corporate China's second-biggest debt
pile, on Tuesday vowed to enhance debt control from 2017 by
repaying most of its high-interest loans, and said it was
confident its leverage ratio will fall after strong sales and an
A-share backdoor listing this year.
The country's largest homebuilder said it has started a
second round of strategic investment fundraising, worth up to 20
billion yuan ($2.91 billion) and expected to be complete in May,
as part of a backdoor listing valued at 198 billion yuan.
Evergrande in October said it would inject almost all of its
property assets, held by a subsidiary, into ShenZhen Special
Economic Zone Real Estate & Properties Group Co Ltd (ShenZhen
It later raised 30 billion yuan as part of a first round of
fundraising by selling 13.2 percent of shares in the subsidiary.
The buyers will eventually be entitled to ShenZhen Real Estate
stock when the assets are transferred.
But it is the size of Evergrande's debt, at $78 billion as
at the end of 2016, racked up during corporate and land
acquisitions, that has captured investor attention.
Last week, Evergrande added to its debt with a $1 billion
seven-year bond that sold briskly due to its high yield of 9.5
percent. That followed a $1.5 billion dual tranche issued in the
"Large debt comes with a large land bank ... Evergrande has
the largest land bank in China," Chief Executive Officer Xia
Haijun said at an earnings briefing. "As our land bank
appreciates, the high debt ratio is without risk."
Xia said Evergrande will repay half of its perpetual capital
instrument - high-interest debt "disguised" as equity - in the
first half of 2016, and a total of two-thirds by the end of the
year. The instrument rose 49 percent last year to 112.9 billion
It was not the first time Evergrande said it would reduce
its perpetual capital instrument. The developer said in 2015 it
would repay over 10 billion yuan that year yet the instrument
Evergrande on Tuesday reported an 89 percent jump in 2016
core profit to 20.81 billion yuan due to a real estate market
that saw a strong increase in sales prices and volumes.
Total borrowings rose 80 percent to 535.1 billion yuan.
Total cash rose a similar degree to 304.3 billion yuan,
providing comfort to shareholders concerned about the debt.
Evergrande shares ended Tuesday 2.9 percent higher, versus a
0.6 percent gain in Hong Kong's benchmark stock index.
($1 = 6.8839 Chinese yuan renminbi)
(Reporting by Clare Jim; Editing by Himani Sarkar and