China Evergrande’s auditor PwC quits over 2021 audit-related matters

China Evergrande's auditor PwC quits over 2021 audit-related matters
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Evergrande Center of China Evergrande Group is seen amid other buildings in Shanghai, China, September 24, 2021. REUTERS/Aly Song

(Reuters) – Embattled property developer China Evergrande said on Monday that its auditor, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), had resigned amid disagreements over matters relating to the audit of its 2021 accounts.

The issues included the timeline and scope of work involved in assessing the company’s going concern basis as well as additional audit work and procedures required for the assets impairment assessment, Evergrande said in a statement.

Once China’s top-selling developer, Evergrande is now at the centre of the country’s property crisis. Its $22.7 billion of offshore debt, including loans and private bonds, is deemed to be in default after it missed payments late last year.

More than a dozen auditors of Hong Kong-listed Chinese property firms parted ways last year, raising governance concerns about the debt-ridden developers, several of whom are yet to publish long-pending financial results.

Changing auditors now could spell more challenges for Evergrande to publish its 2021 annual results and complete a probe into its property services unit by Sept. 20 this year.

Those are stock exchange requirements for it to resume trading after being suspended in March 2022. Otherwise it could face a delisting.

Evergrande, which has been scrambling to raise funds to repay its creditors, is in the midst of a debt restructuring process in which stakeholders are awaiting the completion of its audited financial rundown for 2021.

In its resignation letter, PwC noted that it had not received information on certain material matters surrounding the group’s consolidated financial statements for the year 2021.

PwC also flagged that the group had not settled certain interest-bearing liabilities that were due on their contractual maturity dates in 2021, adding that PwC was not provided with relevant details on the investigation conducted by an independent committee.

Certain cash-flow projections for not less than 12 months from January 2022, including the net realisable value of properties under development and completed properties held for sale as at Dec. 31, 2021 have not been disclosed, PwC said.

Evergrande said it would appoint Prism Hong Kong and Shanghai Ltd as the new auditor, taking into account the recommendation of the company’s audit committee.

Evergrande and PwC have been investigated by Hong Kong’s audit regulator since 2021 over the developer’s 2020 accounts.

Reuters reported last week, citing sources, that the developer will hold a meeting with dollar bondholders to discuss its debt restructuring proposals.

Source: Reuters