China Evergrande Backs Out of Plan to Build World’s Largest Soccer Stadium

The final whistle has sounded for China Evergrande Group’s global soccer ambitions. The embattled Chinese property giant is canceling a contract to build what was slated to be the world’s largest soccer stadium, and is returning land-use rights for the site to the government of Guangzhou in its home province, the Wall Street Journal reported. Evergrande said that it would receive a refund equivalent to about $818 million, and intends to use the money to help repay a mountain of debt. The property conglomerate, which has around $300 billion in liabilities, defaulted on its U.S. dollar bonds last year and has failed to pay some of its debt in mainland China. The massive stadium project had been a high-profile symbol of the excesses of Evergrande, which spent freely on activities far removed from its core real-estate business during the years when it was flush with cash. Evergrande bought Guangzhou’s soccer club more than a decade ago for 100 million yuan, the equivalent of about $15 million at current exchange rates, and used it to help promote its brand as the developer rolled out residential projects in cities across China. Read more. (Subscription required.)