Guangdong lures major developers

BOOMING Guangdong province has attracted property development investments totalling more than $750 million by two more Hongkong-listed companies - Termbray Industries International and Winfoong Investments.

Electronics and consumer products-maker Termbray yesterday kicked off its $500 million development in Conghua, Guangzhou.

The luxury project is a joint venture involving Termbray, the White Swan Hotel Group in Guangzhou, Conghua Trust and Trading Co and Guangzhou Sui Cong Industries Holdings.

The White Swan Garden development, situated on a 280,000-square-metre site in the heart of the Conghua Hot Spring resort area, is a significant move by Termbray to diversify away from its manufacturing business.

The project will comprise 250 bungalows and 13 high-rise residential blocks.

Conghua mayor Zhu Binglie said the development could further boost the tourism industry in Conghua, which attracts more than one million tourists annually.

The city was working on a series of commercial and industrial developments, he said, and a number of major infrastructure projects, including a six-lane superhighway between Guangzhou and Conghua, were under way.

These would greatly improve the investment environment, he said.

Mr Edmund Tong, managing director of the joint venture developer, said the first phase development comprising 86 bungalows and one residential block would be offered for public sale on March 2.

High-rise apartment blocks would sell at $240 a sq ft, while bungalows would be priced at $350 a sq ft, he said.

The first phase is due for completion in the middle of 1994.

Mr Tong said Guangzhou had comprehensive laws on property rights and mortgages, and he expected the White Swan Garden project to attract interest from buyers.

For its part, Winfoong Investments has invested $258.9 million in two mainland developments: a 22.75 per cent-stake in a development site in Shilouzhen, Panyu and a 92 per cent-stake in a site in Xinhui, also in Guangdong province.

Most of the purchase price will be paid in cash but Winfoong has the option of paying $82.9 million by issuing new shares at 87 cents each.

At the Panyu site, a development of 14 high-rise and 40 low-rise residential buildings with a gross floor area of 271,280 sq m is planned.

On the Xinhui site, a residential and commercial estate is planned with villas, low and high-rise units, with a gross floor area of over 1.1 million sq m.

Estimated construction cost of the first development is $584 million and for the second, $1.6 billion.

Winfoong chairman Patrick Cheong said the funds for the acquisition would come from internal reserves and bank loans.

Dozens of Hongkong-listed companies have joined the land boom in southern China in the past two years.

While there had been many letters-of-intent signed, many are non-binding.

S.G. Warburg Securities, in a report on Guangdong's economy - which achieved a growth rate of 18.7 per cent in 1992 - says developers ''which have concentrated on a manageable number of prime sites are likely to achieve greater success than those which have spread their nets too wide''.

Housing reform has gone further in Guangdong than anywhere else in China, says Warburg.

The province's decision to encourage private ownership of housing has been aided by the growth in mortgage finance.

It says the broader property market is not greatly developed; while developers are still able to secure prime land at good locations and a primary market exists for completed units, the secondary market has been slow to develop.