Shenzhen Investment, the property arm of the municipal government, plans to slow land acquisitions from next year if it manages to add plots with a total gross floor area of 10.34 million square metres this year, according to a senior executive. Shenzhen Investment had paid more than 6.95 billion yuan to acquire 18 sites with a total gross floor area of 7.71 million sq metres so far this year, chief operating officer Joe Zhang Huaqiao said. The company planned to spend 2.5 billion yuan to acquire sites in Guangdong, Guangxi, Jiangsu and Anhui provinces with a gross floor area of three million sq metres by the end of the year. Those new purchases would boost its land bank to more than 14.76 million sq metres, sufficient for development over the next eight to nine years, he said. Next year's acquisition target would be two million sq metres. Mr Zhang also said his company was in talks with local authorities on site acquisitions totalling four million sq metres in gross floor area. 'We would slow down in land acquisitions starting next year if we acquired a land bank of three million sq metres in the fourth quarter of this year,' Mr Zhang said. Shenzhen Investment would not bid aggressively in land auctions and instead would team up with local governments to develop new areas and buy troubled developers to keep prices low, he added. The company acquired sites for an average of 1,060 yuan per square metre this year with such strategies, Mr Zhang said. 'Developers who paid high prices for the sites would suffer once the government imposes cooling measures in the market or property prices drop,' he said. Shenzhen Investment's gross profit margin for property development improved to 70 per cent in the first half from 44 per cent, thanks to higher selling prices and low land costs when it bought the sites years ago. Mr Zhang expects gross profit margin to stay at 60 per cent in the second half and next year. For the longer term, the target is between 40 and 50 per cent. Property prices and transaction volume could fall by a 'single digit' after the central government imposed new cooling measures in the market last week, he said.