A company search by lawyers acting on behalf of Pearl Oriental Holdings before the intended $1.72 billion sale of its News Building found that the buyer - Xin Hua Estate, and the company it was acting for - Xin Hua News Agency Beijing Head Office - shared the same address in Wan Chai, Pearl said. However, following cancellation of the sale, Xin Hua Asia-Pacific bureau chief Zhang Guoling was quoted in the Chinese press as saying Xin Hua Beijing was not related to Xin Hua Estate. In an attempt to clarify the mysterious circumstances surrounding the last-minute cancellation of sale, Pearl chief executive Edwin Yuen Hon-ming released a two-page statement outlining the reasons why Pearl believes the two companies are connected. According to Mr Yuen, Pearl chairman Wong Kwan was told in December 1996 by Mo Kin-ching - managing director of Xin Hua Estate - that his company was under the control of Xin Hua News Agency Beijing Head Office. 'In the meeting Mr Mo expressed clearly that Xin Hua Estate was a company under the control of Xin Hua News Agency Beijing Head Office and they intended to acquire Pearl Oriental Centre (later called News Building) as their Hong Kong head office,' Mr Yuen said. On May 24, directors of Pearl and Xin Hua signed a provisional sales and purchase agreement. 'Xin Hua Estate acted as guarantor for the deal and punctual payment of the purchase price,' Mr Yuen said.