A consortium including Wharf (Holdings) and China Merchants Group has paid a higher than expected 8.6 billion yuan (HK$10.75 billion) for two adjoining sites in Beijing. After more than 20 rounds of bidding, the consortium beat 10 major developers to secure the two residential lots in the Yanli Xi residential area, in the capital’s Fengtai district. The two lots have a total site area of 117,226 square metres and a total maximum gross floor area of 338,174 square metres. The four-member consortium, also including investors from Shenzhen and Beijing, paid 4.2 billion yuan for one site and 4.49 billion yuan for the other. Wharf shares closed down 1.29 per cent at HK$57 yesterday. While Beijing’s land sales climbed to a fresh high of 191 billon yuan last year, most second- and third-tier cities saw their land sales revenue plunge by more than a third. “The land market will head in divergent directions this year,” said Wang Yu, deputy managing director at consultancy China Index Academy, run by the mainland’s biggest real estate website operator, Soufun. “Land in first-tier and hot second-tier cities will remain sought after by major developers but they’ll stay on the sidelines in areas with huge inventories.” In its latest survey, China Index Academy said total land revenue in 300 cities fell 27 per cent year on year to 23.4 trillion yuan last year. Wang said developers’ land acquisitions had been slowed by the market downturn and credit tightening. However, nine cities, including Guangzhou and Shenzhen, saw land sales income jumped by about 20 per cent last year.