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Country Garden Sells Stake in Dalian Wanda Unit for $428 mln

HONG KONG, Dec 14 (Reuters) - China's embattled Country Garden said it will sell a small stake in a Dalian Wanda unit back to the Dalian Wanda Group, with the proceeds of about $428 million going towards the restructuring of the property developer's offshore debt.

The sale of its 1.79% holding in shopping mall operator Zhuhai Wanda Commercial Management to Dalian Wanda Commercial Management Group helped shares in Country Garden climb 3% in Thursday trade.

The stock was also lifted after Country Garden, which has defaulted on $11 billion worth of offshore bonds, made a recent payment of 800 million yuan to onshore bondholders, according to a filing late on Wednesday.

Country Garden, China's biggest private property developer, is among a long list of companies in the sector that are either working on debt restructuring proposals or have presented them to creditors after having defaulted on offshore debt.

Dalian Wanda Group - the largest Chinese developer of commercial real estate - has also been under severe stress amid the liquidity crunch in the sector though it has not defaulted on any bond payments.

In particular, investors were focused on whether it could successfully negotiate with investors in Zhuhai Wanda, including Country Garden, who were promised that 40 billion yuan in shares would be bought back if the unit failed to complete an IPO in Hong Kong this year.

Zhuhai Wanda manages 494 malls in China. It does not own the assets, however.

On Tuesday, Dalian Wanda reached an agreement with those investors, which also include private equity investor PAG, for them to reinvest in Zhuhai Wanda at the end of the year after they were paid back what they had spent on their original stake.

The new agreement will mean that the combined stake owned by PAG and other existing investors in Zhuhai Wanda will climb to 60%. That compares to an earlier level of 21%, according to Zhuhai's IPO application documents in June.

Dalian Wanda Group Chairman Wang Jianlin's stake - held through Wanda Commercial and another company - will fall to 40% from around 79% previously.

Country Garden said that it had opted to sell its stake in Zhuhai Wanda now given "significant uncertainty" around a future exit. It added that it would book a 160 million yuan loss on the sale.

($1 = 7.1725 yuan)

Reporting by Clare Jim in Hong Kong; Additional reporting by Archishma Iyer in Bengaluru; Editing by Edwina Gibbs

Source: Reuters

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