Hongkong Land Holdings is making its first foray into the mainland property market, by teaming up with Dutch and Singapore partners on a US$100 million joint venture. The new vehicle, King Kok Investment, is in the final stages of buying its first luxury residential development in Beijing. Hongkong Land's main partner is Rodamco, of Holland, the world's third largest listed property investment fund. It will hold 40 per cent. The remaining 20 per cent will be owned by Crown Pacific Development, of Singapore, a joint venture between Hong Leong, Keck Seng Group and government-owned central provident fund manager Temasek Holdings. Percy Weatherall, Hongkong Land managing director, said: 'We look forward to making an investment in China very soon. 'We have been monitoring the China market closely for some time, and the formation of this joint venture is in line with our strategy.' The size of the deal may not be outstanding in dollar terms, but in terms of the political history of Hongkong Land and the Jardine group, of which it is a part, the move is of immense importance. Michael Green, property analyst at Salomon Brothers, said: 'It is a sign that the frosty relationship with China has thawed.' Hongkong Land previously announced a joint venture with Temasek to carry out a water treatment project on the mainland. However, this is the first sign of the company entering the property arena. Mr Green said the move was also positive in showing that Hongkong Land, in which Li Ka-shing's companies last month disclosed they had bought a 3 per cent stake with a similar sized share of Jardine Matheson, was definitely in joint venture mode. 'Joint venturing is more in line with the corporate culture of Hong Kong,' he said. 'Before, it struck out on its own.' There was some surprise in Hong Kong at last week's government land auction when Hongkong Land bid in conjunction with New World Development and Shun Tak Holdings. While the Jardine group was in Beijing's bad books, Hongkong Land was often left by other developers to go it alone. Analysts also view as positive Cheung Kong's recent move to take a 3 per cent stake. With Hongkong Land appearing to be back on more friendly terms all round, it seems keen to dip into its huge bank balance and start new property investments in Hong Kong. It failed to buy anything at two of the last three land auctions. Trevor Cheung, property analyst at Credit Lyonnais, said: 'The China joint venture is a positive move, but it is not a great deal of money and it would be better if they were announcing something big in Hong Kong.' Mr Weatherall said: 'Hongkong Land is engaged in a new phase of activity in the Hong Kong SAR and elsewhere in Asia and is evaluating property investment and trading opportunities in both the commercial and residential sectors.' Robert Wong, executive director of property development at subsidiary Hongkong Land Ltd, said the joint venture planned to retain the almost complete development in Beijing as a long-term investment if the deal was completed. He would not disclose details of the development but estimated that the average transaction price of residential properties in Beijing ranged from US$232 to $418 per square foot. 'We believe there is a continuing demand from mainland enterprises and foreign companies for high-end residential projects in Beijing,' Mr Wong said.