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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Hong Leong arm, GuocoLand, invests RM9.3bil in China

It is hungry for more land bank in China and GuocoLand China Ltd group managing director Violet Lee said the company had allocated about 6.6 billion yuan (RM3.1bil) to increase its land bank

SHANGHAI: GuocoLand Ltd, which is a Singapore-listed property investment arm of Malaysian conglomerate Hong Leong Group, will hunt for other land in China after its setback in acquiring a plot in Shanghai.

GuocoLand China Ltd group managing director Violet Lee said the company had allocated about 6.6 billion yuan (RM3.1bil) to increase its land bank but it only managed to secure one of the two plots it bidded in Shanghai.

The successful bid is for a 47,647 sq m site in the Changfeng Ecological Business District in the Putuo district which was sold at the price of 3.04 billion yuan (RM1.4bil).

“There will be leftover of funds and we will use them and continue to bid for other land,” she said after a signing ceremony in Beijing last week which saw the entry of the five-star Poly International Cinema into Beijing Guoson Mall.

Violet Lee and Liu Debin at the signing ceremony in Beijing on Oct 20.

To date, GuocoLand China has invested an estimated US$3bil (RM9.3bil) in China with an ever-growing land bank of two million square metres in Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing and Tianjin.

Beijing Guoson Mall, spanning 160,000 sq m, is located in GuocoLand China’s flagship project Guoson Centre which has a total area of 600,000 sq m. The mixed development project is smacked within Dongzhimen, which is regarded as Asia’s largest transportation hub with three subway and light rail lines, dozens bus routes and a daily traffic flow of 800,000 commuters.

The similar development has been emulated in the Guoson Centre in Changfeng, Shanghai. The 500,000 sq m is located at the crossroads of the business zones of Zhongshan Park, Gubei and Hongqiao and only 10-minute drive from the Hongqiao transportation hub.

It will also include a Guoson Mall, a Guoman Hotel and office and residential buildings.

The newly-acquired land is situated in the same area as the Guoson Centre in Changfeng and will be used for residential development.

In 1998, GuocoLand China developed its first commercial building called Corporate Square in Beijing’s Financial Street. Only in the last few years, the company entered Shanghai, Tianjin and Nanjing in a big way by building upscale condominiums.

The company is considered a late bloomer in China’s real estate industry and is now up against heavyweights like CapitaLand, Keppel Land, Cheung Kong Holdings, Kerry Properties and Sun Hung Kai from Singapore and Hong Kong.

However, GuocoLand China builds its name as the transportation hub specialist.

“We had come to China many years ago but we were very low profile unlike others who used to boast about their presence,” Lee said.

“This is the right time to come here as China is flourishing into the world’s second biggest economy and we want to participate in its rapid development in this period.”

She said there were many successful approaches that the company could emulate from its projects in Singapore and Malaysia for China but it would prefer to build homes and commercial properties suited for the local market.

“We have built many green buildings in many places. We want to showcase this in China and are proud to say that we have done quite a lot to green the Guoson Centre,” she said.

“I believe it’s hard to find a 40,000 sq m rooftop garden on the complexes in Guoson Centre.”

With the signing of tenancy agreement between GuocoLand China and Poly Film Investment Ltd, Guoson Mall in Beijing will house one of the most advanced cineplexes in China. The cineplex will meet international standards of high-end and eco-friendly cineplex and occupy 7,000 sq m with nine screens and over 1,500 seats.

Poly Film general manager Liu Debin said the Guoson Mall’s brand positioning and vision was in line with Poly Group’s aim of providing the best service.

“Through its strategic location and well-built business atmosphere, we see enormous commercial value and potential. We are sure that our cooperation will lead to a win-win result,” he said.

Lee said GuocoLand and Poly would establish a long-term partnership and look into further cooperation in other projects in China, especially the Guoson Centre Shanghai.

She said being strategic partners would bring benefits to both companies as they could market themselves even better.

“It’s a rare opportunity to develop such a huge project in this strategic location. We will do our best to fulfil our promise to bring our best development to Dongcheng district (where Guoson Centre Beijing is located) and do our part to improve the people’s lifestyle,” she said.

Guoson Mall is scheduled to open early next year. The Guoson Centre project won the Asia Pacific International Property Awards (APIPA) 2010 for the Best Mixed Use Development in April.

This is the first time a Chinese development won the prestigious award.

By The Star

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