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China’s Third-Richest Man Set for $2 Billion Evergrande Cash

Bloomberg News

(Bloomberg) -- China’s third-richest man is set to get a $2 billion cash windfall.

Hui Ka Yan, chairman of China Evergrande Group, will pocket the money after the property developer and electric-car wannabe declared a record dividend for fiscal 2018.

The board proposed a 1.42 yuan per-share payout for the year ended Dec. 31, according to a statement late Sunday. That would total 18.7 billion yuan ($2.7 billion), and with a 78% stake in the company, Hui will get the lion’s share.

Evergrande shares rose 3.3% in morning trading in Hong Kong, paring this year’s decline to 13%.

The 61-year-old company founder didn’t take a salary last year, and was paid the equivalent of about $34,000 in fees. However, he’s worth $27.5 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Read more: Musk’s Latest Challenger Is a Politically Savvy Chinese Tycoon

Evergrande has poured billions of dollars into acquisitions as Hui pursues an ambition to make the company the world’s biggest maker of electric cars in the next three to five years.

The cash burning foray into electric-cars comes as Evergrande’s net debt-to-equity ratio hovers around 153%, one of the highest among Chinese developers.

What Bloomberg Opinion says:

Evergrande’s dividend “is set to further aggravate its cash crunch. The confluence of weak first-half sales, falling cash collections, and cash burn from its electric-vehicle foray means Evergrande will struggle to shake off enough net debt to hit its target -- 70% of equity -- by mid-2020.”

--Kristy Hung, banking & real estate analyst

To read the full report, click here

So far, Hui doesn’t have much to show for all his grand plans, last month vowing to unveil a debut car by June 2020 -- a year later than first promised.

Not only does that pit him against Elon Musk’s Tesla Inc., which has been churning out EVs for years, but also all the world’s major automakers, which are plowing tens of billions of dollars into EV production and research. Evergrande will also be entering a crowded local field at a time sales are slumping as the government reduces subsidies.

The proposed dividend translates to a 50% payout ratio of the developer’s 37.4 billion yuan profit last year, the same since its listing. Shareholders will vote whether to approve the dividend at an extraordinary general meeting Jan. 15.

Evergrande had deferred a decision on the 2018 dividend twice since March, partly to comply with Chinese regulatory rules as it pursues a back-door listing on the mainland for its real estate assets.

The dividend is expected to be paid on or before Feb. 26, 2020, if it is approved by shareholders.

While Evergrande has delayed dividend payments for the past three fiscal years, it indicated the fiscal 2019 payout will be made after it releases its annual report in March 2020.

(Updates with share price in fourth paragraph.)

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Emma Dong in Shanghai at edong10@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Katrina Nicholas at knicholas2@bloomberg.net, Peter Vercoe

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