The Hong Kong stock exchange suspended the shares of major Chinese developers, such as Shimao Group and Sunac China, from trade for a delay in declaring annual results.

The failure to report audited results will compound worries about the transparency of debt restructurings within troubled Chinese firms and could spark further credit rating downgrades.
The failure to report audited results will compound worries about the transparency of debt restructurings within troubled Chinese firms and could spark further credit rating downgrades. (Reuters Archive)

More than 30 firms, including at least two major Chinese property developers, have seen trading in their shares halted in Hong Kong after they failed to report annual results.

The move on Friday deepens uncertainty for China's embattled property sector, which has been struggling after a clampdown by Beijing suddenly turned off the liquidity taps.

It also comes as China's wider economy battles with sweeping lockdowns in key cities including Shanghai after a surge of coronavirus infections.

Major Chinese developers Shimao Group and Sunac China were among at least 33 companies suspended on Friday.

The firms had all failed to publish their unaudited annual results by a March 31 deadline.

This year's trading suspension figure compares with more than 50 for 2021 and at least nine for 2020, according to Bloomberg News.

Virus-related delays

Of the firms suspended, 14 had audits affected by pandemic curbs, the exchange said. That compared with 57 suspended in the corresponding period last year, when two were related to Covid-19.

Late on Thursday, Shimao Group said its shares would be suspended from Friday as it was unable to publish unaudited 2021 results in time, because of the outbreak.

The pandemic had led to the lockdown of an office building at the firm's Shanghai headquarters and quarantine of some staff, with the date for curbs to be lifted still uncertain, Shimao added.

Because of virus-related delays, Hong Kong's stock exchange allowed firms to submit unaudited figures by March 31 and the audited version by April 30 to avoid suspension.

The exchange had 2,570 listed companies at the end of March, with at least 138 saying they would delay reporting their audited 2021 results past the March deadline, Bloomberg said.

Chinese property firms have struggled in the wake of Beijing's ongoing drive to curb excessive debt in the real estate sector as well as rampant consumer speculation.

Sunac in its Friday statement said its own delay was partly because of issues related to offshore loans "arising from the recent downgrade of the company's credit ratings by international rating agencies".

The Hang Seng Index fell more than one percent in morning trade on Friday and is down seven percent.

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies