This is the way Evergrande ends: not with a bang but a whimper.
Three months after an initial shockwave of fear that China's largest and most indebted property developer was set to default, roiled global markets only to see the company repeatedly kick the can on several occasions even as the final default was always just a matter of when not if (due to billions in interest payments and tens of billions in upcoming debt maturities), overnight ratings agency Fitch (with Moodys and S&P set to follow shortly) officially downgraded insolvent property developers China Evergrande Group and Kaisa Group, saying they had defaulted on offshore bonds.
The downgrades to so-called "restricted default" status came days after the companies failed to make an offshore bond interest payment, even though Evergrande and Kaisa have not officially announced defaults that will result in drawn-out debt restructuring processes and potentially nationalization.
In its note on Evergrande, Fitch said the developer - which failed to make overdue coupon payments on two bonds by the end of a 30-day grace period on Monday -did not respond to its request for confirmation on coupon payments worth $82.5 million that were due last month, with the 30-day grace period ending this week, and so assumed "they were not paid." On Tuesday, S&P said that a default by the developer was “inevitable" and is likely to declare a Selective Default event momentarily to keep in line with Fitch.
Fitch defines a restricted default as indicating an issuer has experienced a default or a distressed debt exchange, but has not begun winding-up processes such as bankruptcy filings and remains in operation.