Bail-out leaves Chinese solar developer needing to raise $62.5m by summer


Debt-saddled Chinese solar project developer Panda Green has waved through its latest bail-out from Beijing to keep the wolf from the door for another five months.

The Hong Kong-listed developer today announced a HK$1.79 billion (US$230 million) cash injection from the state-owned Beijing Energy Holdings Co Ltd, first trailed in August, had finally gone through after twice being postponed.

The state-owned entity will become the biggest shareholder in Panda Green, taking the proportion of its stock held by Beijing bodies to more than 74%.

The financial shot in the arm, which Beijing Energy paid in return for a 32% holding in the developer, will enable Panda Green to repay the near-US$12.5 million it borrowed eight days ago from one of its other state-owned investors, Huaqing Solar Power Ltd. Huaqing, which acquired a stake in Panda Green in January 2019 after the developer was unable to settle a US$123 million loan from the public business, will hold a diminished 13.59% interest in Panda Green after new shares were issued to Beijing Energy.

Shuffling debt piles

With that short-term loan due for repayment on June 27, the Beijing Energy cash will also go a long way towards paying the near-US$280 million Panda Green must pay yet another of its state-owned investors – China Merchants New Energy Group Ltd – by July 23. By pv magazine’s back-of-a-beermat reckoning, the developer will now have to find another US$62.5 million by the time China Merchants is due a settlement.

China Merchants, which will hold a 15.47% interest in Panda Green after the Beijing Energy bail-out, subscribed to a US$260 million issue of 8% senior notes by Panda Green last month as the developer scrambled to pay an earlier US$242 million debt commitment with hours to spare. Under the terms of the, theoretically, two-year senior notes issued, Panda Green – which banked a net US$258 million from the fundraising exercise after handing over US$2.6 million to a China Merchants entity in fees – now has to repay 100.5% of the value of the notes, plus interest, by that July deadline.

The other state-owned Panda Green shareholder, China Huarong Overseas Investment Holdings Co Ltd will also see its stake diluted by today’s bail-out, to 13.59%.

The project developer claims to own 58 solar projects in China with a total generation capacity of 1,957 MW.