Defaulting developer China Aoyuan has agreed to offload a large chunk of its Australia division to an entity controlled by one of the subsidiary’s executives, as the Guangzhou-based group joins the flow of Chinese companies exiting investments Down Under.
Aoyuan is selling 49 percent of the issued share capital of Aoyuan Property Group Australia — a developer with six projects in the country — to a family trust of Adrian Liaw, a director of certain project companies within APGA, for a nominal consideration of two Australian dollars, the developer said Thursday in a filing with the Hong Kong stock exchange.
Under the terms of the deal, Sydney-based Liaw — who also serves as president of Aoyuan’s international development division — will pay A$105 million ($72.5 million) to the parent group for the settlement of shareholder’s loans owed by APGA. Aoyuan will retain a 51 percent non-controlling stake in the Australian entity, which will cease to be a subsidiary of the Hong Kong-listed firm.
Aoyuan expects to record a loss before related transaction costs from the disposal of A$245.9 million ($170 million), chairman Guo Zi Wen said in the filing. The proceeds of the transaction will go to general working capital and to meet the broader liquidity needs of the group, which defaulted on $1.09 billion in offshore debt earlier this year.
APGA’s projects include The Lennox, a 425-unit residential complex in the Sydney suburb of Parramatta that was completed in 2021, and Ashbourne Moss Vale, a 124 hectare (306 acre) master-planned community in Sydney’s Southern Highlands.
Aoyuan said APGA delivered its projects as scheduled in the past two years but failed to achieve stable financial performance. The parent firm’s liquidity crunch is seen as an obstacle to ploughing additional funding into the Australian operation.
“The group’s urgency for cash warrants the realisation of its Australian assets,” Aoyuan said.
Aoyuan announced in January that it would not make payments on four sets of offshore notes totalling $1.09 billion coming due that month and in June 2023 and June 2024. The group’s outstanding offshore debt also includes a $350 million bond maturing in 2027.
Last November, Aoyuan agreed to sell off a redevelopment project in Hong Kong’s Mid-Levels to raise cash, anticipating an estimated loss of HK$176.6 million ($22.5 million) on the disposal.
In late December, Hong Kong hedge fund Nine Masts Capital joined Citibank in taking legal action to recoup more than $131 million owed to them by Aoyuan.
Exits From Oz
Aoyuan’s APGA disposal puts the developer in the company of several other Chinese property investors cutting back in Australia.
Bright Ruby, a vehicle of billionaire steel tycoon Du Shuanghua, is selling the five-star Hilton Sydney to Baring Private Equity Asia for A$530 million in Australia’s biggest-ever single-hotel deal, Mingtiandi reported in May.
The Hilton Sydney sale was revealed just days after an account in the Australian indicated that Chinese developer AWH Investment Group was in final discussions to sell the One Circular Quay project on the Sydney harbourfront for close to A$1 billion.
In April, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that China’s Poly Global had put up for sale multiple projects in Melbourne and Sydney, including its A$300 million office project on La Trobe Street in the Victorian capital. That same month, Guangzhou R&F walked away from a 10,000-home project in Brisbane.