Evergrande billionaire founder said to miss political meeting

BEIJING (BLOOMBERG) – The billionaire chairman of beleaguered property giant China Evergrande Group will miss an annual policy meeting of China’s top political advisory group, according to people familiar with the matter.

Mr Hui Ka Yan requested personal leave from the annual convention of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, or CPPCC, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private.

He will sit out the week-long meeting as Evergrande tries to defuse operational risks, according to the people.

A Communist Party member for more than three decades, Mr Hui was elected to join the political advisory body in 2008 and later secured two further five-year terms.

The Evergrande founder has been part of the CPPCC’s elite 300-member standing committee since 2013. He actively participated in the convention in previous years, including by speaking at news briefings on economic reform and poverty alleviation.

Mr Hui’s empire is at the centre of a credit crunch that has rippled through the real estate industry and hurt the economy in a key year for the Chinese Communist Party.

Evergrande has officially become a defaulter and the authorities from the developer’s home province of Guangdong are among those leading what could be one of the nation’s biggest debt restructuring efforts.

Evergrande did not respond to a request for comment outside of business hours.

The CPPCC’s more than 2,000 members include the nation’s most prominent politicians and entrepreneurs, and delegates typically submit proposals on major political and social issues.

The meetings run alongside the National People’s Congress, the biggest event on China’s political calendar before a twice-a-decade party gathering later this year that is likely to confirm President Xi Jinping’s precedent-defying third term in power.

Chinese authorities are considering a proposal to dismantle Evergrande by selling the bulk of its assets, Bloomberg reported earlier this year.

The company told creditors in January that it aims to issue a preliminary restructuring plan in the next six months.

Evergrande and many of its peers have seen financing channels dry up following a government campaign against excessive leverage in the industry.

Officials have eased up on the crackdown recently as home sales and prices fall.


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