February 5, 2018 / 5:44 AM / 13 days ago

China's Leshi says $890 million of debts due this year, shares drop 10 percent

HONG KONG (Reuters) - China’s Leshi Internet 300104.SZ said about 5.62 billion yuan (£630 million) of its debts would be due by the end of this year, or almost two-thirds of the company’s total loans and liabilities, sending its shares down for a ninth day.

This is the first time the video-streaming firm - which is battling the fallout from a severe cash crunch at its founder Jia Yueting’s embattled technology conglomerate LeEco - has provided an estimate for its debt in 2018.

Earlier, the company had said that a part of its total loans and financial liabilities of 9.29 billion yuan ($1.5 billion)would be due this year, without giving any further details.

Leshi shares plunged by the daily limit of 10 percent on Monday. Nine days of declines, since the stock resumed trading in January after a nine-month suspension, have knocked 37.5 billion yuan off the company’s market capitalisation, that is currently at 23.7 billion yuan.

At its peak in 2015, Leshi was valued at 153 billion yuan.

Just last week, Leshi flagged that it expected a loss of 11.6 billion yuan for 2017, more than five times its combined profits since listing on the Shenzhen stock exchange in 2010, due to the ongoing crisis at LeEco.

    LeEco was once China’s Netflix-to-Tesla contender but ran into a cash crunch since late 2016 after expanding too fast. Leshi used to be the main listed unit of the conglomerate.

    But under the control of property developer Sunac China (1918.HK) - its second-largest shareholder, Leshi is now trying to distance itself from the LeEco brand.

    Leshi says its largest shareholder Jia and related LeEco units owe it 7.5 billion yuan. LeEco disputes the figure.

    Shares of Sunac plunged as much as 6 percent, lagging a nearly 2 percent fall for the benchmark index .HSI.

    Reporting by Sijia Jiang; Editing by Himani Sarkar

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