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|Xing Zhibin had grand visions for Shanxi Liansheng Energy Co. Da'Norris Searcy Jersey , but what he built was a tower of debt that threatens to collapse
BEIJING (Caixin Online) — The fall of a private coal giant in the northern province of Shanxi took less than two years. Like many others in the industry, Shanxi Liansheng Energy Co. Ltd. was due for a reality check, now that the shine is off government intervention and the economy is slowing.
At its peak in 2011, Liansheng had 60 billion yuan in assets, 36,000 employees and business in six fields. Its expansion was fuelled by robust demand for coal and support from the provincial government.
But by 2013 Jarius Wright Jersey , the company’s capital chain was on the verge of breaking due to falling coal prices and a large number of loans coming due. The conglomerate is struggling to keep its doors open, and local officials want financial institutions to give Liansheng time to recover because its fate affects the entire province, they say.
Whether the company can find a savior amid declining coal prices will determine whether it can restructure and recover.
The difficulty Liansheng started facing last year was unprecedented, said Ma Xueyun, vice chairman and vice president at Liansheng.
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When the company began to prepare for an initial public offering in 2007 Dontari Poe Jersey , it had total debt of less than 400 million yuan and its 14 collieries were doing well. The company’s owner, Xing Zhibin, was a celebrated entrepreneur and one of the richest men in China.
But later that year Xing was detained by police for two months for having tens of millions of yuan in unpaid debts at Agricultural Bank of China. The scandal shattered Liansheng’s hopes for an IPO. In 2008, the group listed in Hong Kong through a shell company.
Liansheng’s biggest loan was for just 200 million yuan, Ma said.
But that number skyrocketed during the mine consolidation frenzy that started in 2009 at the behest of the government. Senior executives at Liansheng said at the time many mine owners came to them in hopes the group would acquire their mines.
Xing decided to team up with China Resources Power Holdings Co. because it would help with financing for acquisitions and bring a large state-owned company to the area, Liansheng executives said.
The deal put Liansheng on a fast track. The joint venture Liansheng set up with China Resources Power Torrey Smith Jersey , which had a 42 percent stake, spent 14.9 billion yuan on 29 mines in the cities of Luliang and Gujiao.
It also acquired a major company in the area, Loujun Mining Co. Ltd., and three mines that yield 3 million tons of coal per year for 4.9 billion yuan
The Shanxi government helped with financing problems with preferential policies and by encouraging banks to issue loans for companies like Liansheng.
The industry had bright prospects at the time. Banks competed to get Liansheng as a client, presenting innovative financial products and designing ways to find the money it needed to expand, executives at the company said.
By the end of the consolidation campaign Devin Funchess Panthers Jersey , Liansheng’s debt soared to 26 billion yuan.
Xing had a vision that was bigger than producing coal, Liansheng executives said. He wanted to bring prosperity to the town where the company is headquartered, the billionaire once said.
In 2009, Xing began his plan to turn the small town of Liuyu into a bustling city surrounded by farms using advanced technologies. His blueprint included building a 154 square kilometer agricultural zone encompassing 52 villages. The new city was also to have schools, a logistics industrial park, a downtown area surrounding the company’s office buildings and a residential compound with thousands of apartments. Xing had in mind nothing short of a complete economy that would turn tens of thousands of farmers into company employees Shaq Thompson Panthers Jersey , his wife, Li Fengxiao, said.
And he achieved it in part, she said. He invested 2 billion yuan on land reclamation, roads, dams and more than 1 James Bradberry Panthers Jersey ,000 apartments. The industrial park and schools took 4 billion yuan to build. The projects were approved by city and provincial government officials.
“People were proud to tell others they work at Liansheng,” said Yan Ming, a company employee.
Liansheng was also a tax milk cow. As of the end of 2011, it paid – in cash – more than 16.7 billion yuan, company documents show.
The agricultural park and schools were long-term investment projects, but Liansheng’s loans were short-term.
Besides a few loans for technology upgrades Daeshon Hall Panthers Jersey , most were due in periods of six months, a year or two years, a vice president at the company said. The structure was unreasonable, he said.
Meanwhile, changes in government policy further stretched the company’s liquidity. The Shanxi government raised the standards for mines several times for safety reasons, increasing the time and investment required to complete upgrades.
The longest-term loan a private company could get for infrastructure projects and technology upgrades was three years. When loans came due in 2011 Taylor Moton Panthers Jersey , most of Liansheng’s mines were still upgrading and not in production. Out of the 10 mines Liansheng now operates, only three are in production. It still needs at least another 900 million yuan to get the rest going, executives at the company said.
Xing began seeking outside investors in late 2011, just before the coming crisis. He signed a draft agreement to have Fosun International Ltd. invest 15 billion yuan in Liansheng for a 51 percent stake, the company vice president said. But Foson terminated the deal after eight months of talks when rumors surfaced in Ju
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