Legoland Korea's Default Flags Risks for Nation's Developers

  • In Business
  • 2022-10-06 07:48:07Z
  • By Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) -- A missed debt payment by the developer of Legoland Korea theme park adds to difficulties faced by the nation's real estate market that's already weakened by surging interest rates.

The amusement opened in May just as turmoil in global debt markets made it much pricier for Korean borrowers including developers to refinance debt. Commercial paper repackaging 205 billion won ($144 million) of loans for the Legoland Korea project wasn't paid on the maturity date of Sept. 29, according to backers of the project.

That constitutes a default, according to Korea Investors Service and Gangwon province, the northeastern municipality where the park is located and the largest shareholder in the project's developer LL Development.

While South Korea's property woes may be dwarfed by those of China, Legoland Korea's missed debt payment is a reminder for global investors of the way that interest-rate hikes are battering once-booming real estate markets around the world. A downturn in Korea's property market may cause a 10% decline in national house prices from their peak to trough, and that could prompt the central bank to pivot to rate cuts, according to Nomura analysts.

"There are already increased concerns over real estate project financing debt and lower-rated builders in Korea, and this event will likely further dent investor sentiment toward those sectors, raising their refinancing risks," said Kim Eun-gie, credit analyst in Seoul at Samsung Securities Co. "It's like slapping someone who is about to cry."

LL Development, the borrower of the loan and the developer of the amusement park, will file for receivership, according to Gangwon province. The province still has an obligation to repay the loan and will meet it after LL Development's rehabilitation is arranged, a spokesperson said. The province will find a new developer that has sufficient assets and ability to normalize the project through the rehabilitation procedures, according to the spokesperson.

Market Downturn

Increasing financial costs have squeezed returns on housing investment in Korea, "setting the stage for a downturn in the housing market," Nomura analysts including Jeong Woo Park wrote in report dated Oct. 4.

In addition to expecting a 10% drop in Korea's house prices, they see around an 18% drop in Seoul apartment prices over the next few years. That would represent a sharper slowdown than the 2009-2014 housing market slump.

Highlighting the rapid decline in Korea's property market, transaction volume in Seoul's retail property plunged 21% in August, while office deals also sank about 21%, the sharpest monthly drop since 2015 for both, according to Real Capital Analytics data.

Spreads on Korean corporate notes have surged to the highest since 2010, in line with the global debt market rout sparked by accelerating inflation and rising interest rates. The Legoland news is another factor weighing on the local credit market, said Shin Jae-hoon, head of fixed-income team in Seoul at Mirae Asset Global Investments Co.

(Adds detail on opening of theme park and more analysis.)

Most Read from Bloomberg Businessweek

  • Millions in Cryptocurrency Vanished as Agents Watched Helplessly

  • Musk Won't Own Twitter Until the Shareholders Get Paid

  • Pfizer Needs to Prove It's Ready to Move On From Covid-19

  • The Massive Gas Field That Europe Can't Use

  • Even After $100 Billion, Self-Driving Cars Are Going Nowhere

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.


More Related News

TSMC Plans to Make More Advanced Chips in US at Urging of Apple
TSMC Plans to Make More Advanced Chips in US at Urging of Apple

(Bloomberg) -- Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. will offer advanced 4-nanometer chips when its new $12 billion plant in Arizona opens in 2024, an...

Stocks Rally on China Covid, Powell; Dollar Slides: Markets Wrap
Stocks Rally on China Covid, Powell; Dollar Slides: Markets Wrap

(Bloomberg) -- Stocks extended gains in Asia after China appeared to soften is Covid stance and Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell signaled a slowdown in...

U.S. preparing more sanctions on North Korea, Sullivan says
U.S. preparing more sanctions on North Korea, Sullivan says

The United States is working a new round of sanctions against North Korea, U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said on Thursday, as Pyongyang forges...

Chinese Stocks Add to Historic Rally as Reopening Signs Grow
Chinese Stocks Add to Historic Rally as Reopening Signs Grow

(Bloomberg) -- Chinese stocks extended gains into the new month amid fresh signs that the nation is moving away from Covid Zero that's wreaked havoc on...

GoTo Plumbs New Low After Early Backers
GoTo Plumbs New Low After Early Backers' Lock-Up Expires

(Bloomberg) -- Shares of GoTo Group plunged to yet another record low after a lock-up on its major shareholders' stakes expired, freeing early backers to...

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply


Top News: Business