Project building concerns put R&F Properties out of favour After being a one-day hero on Tuesday for heading up a consortium of developers to bid successfully for the most expensive piece of land sold on the mainland, Guangzhou R&F Properties was shot down by state-owned media yesterday. A report published on the People's Daily website criticised R&F's residential properties for their inadequate living space, low quality furnishings and poor parking arrangements. It accused the company of focusing only on profitability while neglecting building quality. If that was not enough, it also criticised R&F for refusing to respond to questions from the media. People's Daily Online quoted a report from China.org.cn citing a clerk of works who had inspected R&F's Another City project in Beijing and uncovered more than 20 problems. The criticism came the day after R&F teamed up with fellow Guangzhou developers Agile Property Holdings and Country Garden Holdings to secure a huge site in the city for 25.5 billion yuan (HK$29 billion) in a public auction. Lai See recalls similar criticism from mainland media over Country Garden's acquisition of cheap land at the end of 2007, months after it had listed in Hong Kong and was widely reported by local and overseas media to have China's biggest land bank. It all brings to mind a Chinese saying: The bird that flies at the front gets killed first. Is the timing of the R&F criticism just a coincidence? Expensive sites Premier Wen Jiabao's recently delivered warning on the rapid rise in home prices has been followed by the government gradually releasing measures to cool off the market. However, our political leaders may be overlooking a potential bubble in another type of property asset - burial plots. According to mainland website easyday.com, the price of a burial plot has risen 10 per cent a year over the past few years because of limited supply. It quoted an industry source as saying a grave of two square metres costs between 50,000 yuan and 90,000 yuan. Some are even more expensive than the per square metre home prices in the cities. Industry players predict prices will go up 20 per cent next year as dying becomes more expensive than living. Show on the road early SouthGobi Energy Resources, a Canadian-listed Mongolia coal miner, yesterday caught investors by surprise by putting its preliminary prospectus up on the Hong Kong stock exchange website. Normally, listing candidates wait until the 11th hour before filing the document with the exchange to give themselves maximum flexibility for last-minute changes - that usually means the day of the launch of the investor roadshow. But SouthGobi's roadshow is not expected until next month. The early Christmas present gives investors a lot more time to do their homework on the company. SouthGobi, 80 per cent owned by Ivanhoe Mines, reportedly aims to raise US$300 million in its Hong Kong listing. Citi and Macquarie are the bookrunners. Merry fund manager 'Tis the season to rake it in. United States hedge fund manager David Tepper of Appaloosa Management, stands to earn US$2.5 billion after picking the market right. His hedge fund made returns of more than 120 per cent for the year to the beginning of this month, generating US$7 billion, of which he is entitled to more than a third. Tepper, a former Goldman Sachs trader who reportedly keeps a brass pair of testicles on his desk, started buying shares in US investment banks in February when the markets feared that the companies would be nationalised. He bought Bank of America when the shares were trading below US$3 and Citigroup at just US$1. The firm, which specialises in spotting value in distressed companies, also bought large tranches of debt in February and March. Tepper said he knew he was going out on a limb. 'I felt like I was alone.' Don't worry, David, with US$2.5 billion in your back pocket, you'll have all the friends that money can buy.