Soho China seeks opportunities in Taiwan

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 May, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 May, 2008, 12:00am
 

Soho China, a Beijing commercial property developer, has expressed interest in shopping centre and hotel projects in Taiwan after a four-day visit to the island by the company's chairman last month.

Soho China chairman Pan Shiyi said yesterday that Taiwan's residential property market was less attractive as it had been saturated.

'The quality is good but transactions have been few as people are unwilling to buy new homes amid the poor economic sentiment,' he said, adding that there were many empty public housing buildings.

Shopping centres and hotels, however, are expected to benefit from an influx of mainland visitors.

Despite Soho China's focus on commercial property, Mr Pan said offices were not its first choice. 'It may not be a good time to develop office projects until the economy improves after the 'three-links' policy.'

Taiwan's president-elect Ma Ying-jeou has promised to adopt the policy - which refers to direct mail, trade and transport links with the mainland - in July after he takes office on May 20.

Soho China has not identified any projects inTaiwan for investment and has no plans to bid for the high-profile Agora Garden hotel site that comes up for auction at the end of this month.

Mr Pan said his company's main focus would remain on the mainland property market.

Regarding its mainland operations, Mr Pan said Soho China's property sales in the first four months were lower than a year earlier as no new projects had been launched this year, as a result of the central government's market-cooling measures.

The developer planned to launch Sanlitun Soho, a retail and residential project in Beijing, next month, he said.

Mr Pan said he was confident about sales and property prices of the project as it was in one of the city's prime districts.

Soho China is still awaiting approval to inject 33 sites in the Tiananmen South (Qianmen) area, a prime area of Beijing, from the chairman's privately held company into the listed company.

Another 11 sites were put up for tender on January 29, only to be withdrawn two days later. Mr Pan said he did not know when the tenders would be held again.

Mr Pan said transaction activity in the mainland property market would increase if banks relaxed rules on mortgages for second home purchases introduced last year.

However, he said such a regulatory easing was unlikely to happen in the near future.

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