Buying by Reliance boosts sentiment
Multi-faceted Reliance Industries, one of the three largest industrial groups in India, is leading the purchase of prime properties in India's commercial capital, Bombay.
Reliance's move is being followed by Indian groups and multinational corporations, creating a mood that the property market is set for a revival after more than two years of depression.
Taking advantage of the city's low prices, Reliance group companies have made massive residential and commercial property purchases, totalling more than 3.5 billion Indian rupees (about HK$753 million).
A Reliance spokesman denied the properties had been bought as an investment, saying they were meant to meet the increasing demands of the rapidly expanding group.
The most recent purchase is a block of 120 residential flats coming up in the eastern suburb of Kurla, which was cornered by Reliance Petroleum for 300 million rupees.
Priced at 4,000 rupees per square foot, the property is in two buildings under construction on the Swadeshi Mills Road. It is reportedly meant for housing middle-level executives of the organisation.
Other major purchasers of commercial property include the Ahmedabad-based Arvind Mills, who have bought the entire Pinnacle Chambers building on Andheri-Kurla Road, near the Sahar international airport, for 204 million rupees.
Sun Pharmaceuticals purchased 25 offices in Acme Plaza, which is in the same area, for 198.2 million rupees, at the rate of 7,100 rupees per sq ft. The complex is under construction.
Among the multinationals buying property in Bombay was the Federal Bank, which continued its buying spree in the Bandra-Kurla Complex by investing 21.3 million rupees for 20,000 sq ft of commercial space in the Lakshmi Finance and Leasing Building. Property values have softened in the Bandra-Kurla Complex over the past two years.
This can be noted from prices which were in the region of 18,000 rupees per sq ft in mid-1995, with no dearth of buyers, and few sellers.
In the central business district at Nariman Point, commercial space on ownership has gone down from a high point of 28,000 rupees per sq ft to a current level of 15,000-16,000 rupees per sq ft.
For prime residential properties in the midtown Worli area, on the seaface, prices have fallen to around 11,000 rupees per sq ft, a substantial reduction over the rate of 17,000 rupees per sq ft quoted in mid-1995.
International consultants Knight Frank, which has an office in Bombay, said that seemed to be the lowest levels prices could drop, and that a rise would be seen over the next few months.