The debt-ridden real estate developer is facing protests from investors who fear the company can go bankrupt.

People gather outside the Evergrande headquarters in Shenzhen, southeastern China on September 14, 2021.
People gather outside the Evergrande headquarters in Shenzhen, southeastern China on September 14, 2021. (AFP)

Dozens of anxious investors protested outside the headquarters of troubled Chinese property giant Evergrande, after the debt-laden firm conceded it was under "tremendous pressure" and may not be able to meet its repayments.

Evergrande's plight has raised fears of a contagion across the debt-mired Chinese property sector which accounts for more than a quarter of the world's second-largest economy with a knock-on for banks and investors.

The Hong Kong-listed developer is sinking under a mountain of liabilities totalling more than $300 billion after years of borrowing to fund rapid growth.

An estimated 60 to 70 people gathered outside Evergrande's headquarters in the southern city of Shenzhen, demanding answers from the company.

The anxious investors crowded in front of the building's entrance as police were deployed to maintain order, according to reporters at the scene.

"Our boss is owed over $3.1 million (20 million yuan), and many people here are owed even more," said a man who gave his surname only as Chen.

"We are definitely very anxious. There's no clear explanation right now... they should have paid the money when it was due."

Bankruptcy fears

Evergrande was downgraded by two credit rating agencies last week while its shares tumbled below their 2009 listing price, with a barrage of bad headlines and speculation of its imminent collapse on Chinese social media.

On Monday, the company insisted it will avoid bankruptcy.

But on Tuesday, it issued another statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange, saying it had hired financial advisers to explore "all feasible solutions" to ease its cash crunch.

The statement warned that there was no guarantee Evergrande would meet its financial obligations.

The firm blamed "ongoing negative media reports" for damaging sales in the pivotal September period, "resulting in the continuous deterioration of cash collection by the Group which would in turn place tremendous pressure on... cashflow and liquidity".

Shares in the firm fell more than 11 percent on Tuesday, and are down almost 80 percent since the start of the year.

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"Evergrande's collapse would be the biggest test that China's financial system has faced in years," said Mark Williams, chief Asia economist at Capital Economics.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies