Sino-Forest To Miss Earnings Deadline

Dec 13 2011 | 10:42am ET

The Chinese timber company that cost hedge fund billionaire John Paulson over $500 million is about to miss an interest payment on its debt and doesn’t know when it will publish its earnings statement.

Sino-Forest, accused of overstating its timberland holdings in China’s Yunan Province, said Monday in a statement it would miss a $9.78 million interest payment on its 2016 convertible notes that is due December 15.

The company, based in Hong Kong and Mississauga, Ontario, said it does not know when—or if—its Q3 earnings results will be released.

Sino-Forest shares went south in June after short seller Muddy Waters accused the company of exaggerating its timber assets. The timber firm issued a 180-page interim report in November, which it said proved it was not “a near total fraud,” nor a “Ponzi scheme.” The report showed available cash of $571 million, down by over $600 million from the beginning of the year.

Sino-Forest believes it will receive a notice of default from bondholders and said in its statement that “the board has determined that it must consider all strategic options available.” Options include recapitalizing or selling some or all of its business groups. It has appointed Houlihan Lokey and Bennett Jones as financial and legal advisers.

“This is a real company with real assets and devoted employees. We will do everything within our power to maximize the return to our stakeholders and complete any work that is required,” said Judson Martin, Sino-Forest chief executive.

Trading in Sino-Forest shares, which are listed in Toronto, has been suspended by the Ontario Securities Commission since August.

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