Country Garden targets provinces in low-cost land purchase strategy

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 April, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 April, 2007, 12:00am

Country Garden Holdings, a mainland developer that hopes to raise as much as HK$12.9 billion in Hong Kong this month, plans to expand its presence to four provinces outside Guangdong to maintain a low-price land acquisition strategy, chairman Yeung Kwok-keung said.

'We adopt a different strategy compared with other developers as we will only concentrate on exploring regions that could allow us to gain a higher margin with low acquisition costs,' Mr Yeung said.

Country Garden, a Guangdong property developer with 22 projects in the province, is developing five residential sites outside its base - in Hunan, Jiangsu, Inner Mongolia and Liaoning - with an aggregate area of 2.7 million square metres.

'Some developers are keen on acquiring new land at a high price in some first-tier cities or even second-tier provinces,' he said.

'That is not in line with our existing operating strategy.'

Country Garden's land costs accounted for less than 10 per cent of its average selling price over the past few years, the company said.

The company expects net profit to surge at least 140 per cent to 4.01 billion yuan this year, driven by low acquisition costs and economies of scale.

This compared with 1.67 billion yuan in net profit last year, according to its listing prospectus.

'The institutional tranche has been more than 15 times covered as the company has just finished the first two stops - in Hong Kong and Singapore - in its 15-day international management roadshow,' a source said.

Investors placed orders with no price sensitivity, the source said.

Country Garden is selling 2.4 billion new shares, or 15 per cent of its enlarged share capital, at between HK$4.18 and HK$5.38 each, representing 16.7 times to 21.5 times its forecast earnings for this year.

The offer will value the company as the biggest mainland property developer listed in Hong Kong, with a market value of as much as HK$86 billion.

Before the public offering, the company has brought in five cornerstone investors, including tycoons Robert Kuok, Lee Shau-kee and Cheng Yu-tung, Hong Kong-listed Citic Pacific and Singapore's Temasek Holdings, , the prospectus shows.

The investors paid HK$3.5 billion for a combined 4.7 per cent stake in the firm. Trading in the shares is set to start on April 20.