Chinachem Group is planning a big push into the mainland, with a 20 billion yuan (HK$23.7 billion) proposal to build more than 30 landmark development projects in Hebei province.
Chinachem, in partnership with China Lerthai Commercial Real Estate Group and retailer Carrefour China, yesterday signed contracts with government officials that will involve building commercial, retail, hotel and residential developments in the northeast.
The group, once counted among Hong Kong's leading property developers, is bidding to recapture its former glory days, now that the legal tangle over the estate of its late chairman, Nina Wang Kung Yu-sum, has been settled.
The company has become more active in the local property market recently.
The projects will be built in 11 cities, including Shijiazhuang, Tangshan, Qinhuangdao, Langfang, Handan, Chengde, Zhangjiakou and Baoding in the province.
'We choose to develop in Hebei because it has a population of 70 million and the people have strong buying power, benefiting the retail market,' China Lerthai chairman Yang Longfei said.
Yang added that the gross domestic product of the province surged 12.2 per cent last year.
The first phase of the development consists of 12 projects to be completed within three years. Among them, three to five projects will begin this year.
Chinachem and China Lerthai are building a large integrated project known as Lerthai Centre in Shijiazhuang.
With a total gross floor area of more than 620,000 square metres, nearly half has been allocated for a shopping centre while the rest will house a five-star hotel, a 44-storey office building and apartments.
Some of the company's projects will be built in the central business districts of the chosen cities using the Lerthai Centre model. They will cover more than 300,000 square metres each.
Other projects will include apartments, restaurants, shopping arcades and entertainment facilities.
Yang said Carrefour and China Lerthai had opened nine supermarkets in Hebei.
A Chinachem spokeswoman said the group would fund the 20 billion yuan plan but declined to disclose the amount.
The company's Lily in Repulse Bay was the first residential project launched in the Hong Kong market after the Kung family won the legal battle over Wang's estate.
Last year, the company also embarked on a campaign to focus on creating developments for sale rather than lease.
Chinachem owns more than 100 commercial and residential projects available for lease in Hong Kong. With substantial rental income, it has no pressure on cash flow and is willing to bide its time before releasing a project.