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China Evergrande Group has officially been labeled a defaulter for the first time, the latest milestone in months-long financial drama that’s likely to culminate in a massive restructuring of the world’s most indebted developer.
Fitch Ratings cut Evergrande to “restricted default” over its failure to make two coupon payments by the end of a grace period on Monday, a move that may trigger cross defaults on the developer’s $19.2 billion of dollar debt.
The downgrade came just minutes after Fitch applied the same default label to Kaisa Group Holdings Ltd., which failed to repay a $400 million dollar bond that matured Tuesday. Together, the two companies account for about 15% of outstanding dollar bonds sold by Chinese developers.
Long considered by many investors as too big to fail, Evergrande has now become the largest casualty of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s campaign to tame the country’s overindebted conglomerates and overheated property market. Before this week, Chinese borrowers had defaulted on $10.2 billion of offshore bonds in 2021, with real estate firms making up 36% of the total, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
DUBAI — Mounia Touhami used to love working Sundays, the first day of the workweek in the United Arab Emirates. The U.S. and Europe were off for the weekend, and the financier had a quiet day to get things done.
Now, her adopted country is switching to match the rest of the world with a Monday to Friday week, starting Jan. 1. The French expatriate fears she’ll work six days a week as clients in other Gulf countries continue to work Sunday through Thursday, and her colleagues in the West pester her on a Friday. “I’m very upset about it actually,” Ms. Touhami, managing director at Canadian investment firm BentallGreenOak, said jokingly. “I used to love my Sunday.”
The U.A.E. decision, announced Tuesday, to upend the workweek has residents scrambling to figure out how the change will affect their lives and livelihoods. Work will now begin Monday and end Friday at noon, a 4 1/2-day week that the government has framed as a boon for work-life balance.
The U.A.E. move is ostensibly aimed at making the Gulf state a more attractive place for foreigners to do business, vacation and live. Fridays are traditionally a day for family gatherings and are considered the most important day of prayer for Muslims, who often gather in mosques for weekly sermons. Most Middle East countries work from Sunday to Thursday, including Israel, where the Sabbath begins Friday at sundown.
But about 90% of the U.A.E.’s nearly 10 million residents are foreigners, and the country wants to continue to draw international talent — accustomed to a Monday-to-Friday working week — to help diversify its still oil-reliant economy.
The Gulf state, which includes cities Dubai and Abu Dhabi, found a way to ease into a new workweek without upsetting religious tradition. The workweek will end Friday at noon ahead of prayers, which will be fixed at 1:15 p.m.
The shift initially applies to federal government employees and schools, with the private sector expected to follow.