JLW set to expand operation

Billy Adams

HONGKONG'S biggest foreign property firm is poised to expand into China.

Jones Lang Wootton is planning to become the first Western real estate consultancy to set up a base in Shanghai.

C. Y. Leung and Co have been the most prolific Hongkong firm in the Chinese market with offices in Shenzhen and Shanghai.

First Pacific Davies runs a property management operation in Shenzhen and Brooke Hillier Parker has been active in projects all over China from its base in the territory.

Nigel Raymond, chairman of JLW (Asia), said Shenzhen could eventually overtake Hongkong as the region's number one economy.

He said: ''Shanghai was and, I think, sees itself as becoming superior again. People in Hongkong obviously won't take that lying down.'' JLW experts are applying for a licence to set up in China.

It hopes to open a small office with a workforce of about five early next year.

Plans for further expansion into Beijing and Guangzhou should follow.

Mr Raymond said so far a ''selective approach'' had been adopted in the approach towards China.

He said the move was not certain as major upheavals in the mainland economy could scupper any plans.

He added: ''I guess we are the first large Western group to go in there.

''Doing this is not impossible but it will not be easy either.''