USI Holdings plans to build up its portfolio of high-end mainland serviced apartments by adding as many as five projects in Shanghai and Beijing in the next two years, according to the company. The Hong-Kong-listed apparel and property group's first serviced-apartments venture, Lanson Place Jin Lin Tian Di Residences, is ranked among the top five international-standard long-term stay developments in Shanghai. 'We will probably add 600 to 800 [serviced] units to our portfolio at a total investment cost of about two billion to three billion yuan,' said USI executive director Dennis Au. USI is owned 55.7 per cent by the family of Singaporean Christopher Cheng and 25.3 per cent by Sun Hung Kai Properties. The company, which also owns residential developments such as the Giverny luxury complex in Sai Kung, began building up its Lanson Place hospitality brand last year. Its next serviced-apartments venture will be in Beijing. Last month, USI paid HK$195 million for a 30 per cent stake in an uncompleted residential block in Hongkong Land's Central Park project in Beijing. Hongkong Land and mainland developer Vantone own the rest of the building. Mr Au said the building would be turned into a serviced-apartment complex under the Lanson Place brand name in 2008. 'There are a few projects that we are looking at,' Mr Au said. 'There are plenty of opportunities in China.' USI will focus its expansion drive on Shanghai and Beijing, where demand for high-end serviced apartments is driven by the continuing influx of employees of multinational corporations. 'When you look at China or even Asia, the supply of professional operators in the segment is relatively limited,' Mr Au said. However, he expects to see more competition in the China market soon. Boutique serviced-flat operator Shama - majority-owned by Morgan Stanley Real Estate Fund - said last month it plans a concerted push into the mainland with a project in Shanghai and another in Beijing in the next two years. Worldwide long-term stay operators such as Oakwood and Ascott have already built up a strong presence in key Chinese cities, while Mandarin Oriental, the luxury hotel chain, says it will diversify into serviced apartments with a project in Shanghai.