Special Report-Inside the downfall of embattled property developer China Evergrande

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By Engen Tham, Julie Zhu and Clare Jim SHANGHAI/HONG KONG – In the beginning, Hui Ka Yan followed a simple formula. Borrow to buy land. Sell homes on the site before they are built. Use the cash to pay lenders and finance the next real estate project. For two decades, starting in the mid-1990s, this approach was enormously lucrative as Chinese home prices soared. It transformed Hui, a former steel industry employee from a rural village, into China’s richest man. And it turned his company, China Evergrande Group, into a vast real-estate empire. But as Evergrande grew increasingly laden with deb…

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