Land prices in China hit a new high on Monday after two Shenzhen-based companies joined forces for a winning 31 billion yuan bid to develop a commercial site at Shenzhen’s planned new convention and exhibition centre, making it the most expensive land in the country. It broke the December 2009 record for a plot of land in Guangzhou’s Asian Games Village which was sold for 25.5 billion yuan to a joint venture formed by Guangzhou R & F Properties , Agile Property Holdings , and Country Garden Holdings. The value of the Shenzhen site is comparable to top-tier office properties in Hong Kong, where The Center in Central, the tallest office building owned by Li Ka-shing’s Cheung Kong Property (Holdings) , is being offered for sale at HK$35 billion. The bid by the two companies – China Merchants Shekou Industrial Zone Holdings and Overseas Chinese Town – who split the deal 50-50 was for phase one of Shenzhen International Exhibition Centre and development rights for the commercial site. The total buildable floor space is 1.543 million square metres. The exhibition centre will be near the city’s airport in Baoan district and is expected to be finished in 2018, according to earlier reports. It will be one of the world’s largest exhibition centres, according to the government. These “Land king” sites, as they have come to be known, have mushroomed in China’s top tier and some second-tier cities with stronger economic growth since the start of 2016. Developers and investors are on the hunt for land to buy because of the lack of good investment opportunities given the fluctuations in stock and currency markets. On August 17, Fujian-based developer Ronshine China beat out 17 bidders to win a plot of land in central Shanghai’s Jingan district for 11 billion yuan, with the average cost hitting 100,000 yuan per square metre – China’s most expensive land on a cost per square metre basis. In Guangzhou, China’s fourth largest city, private developer Agile Property bought a parcel of land where the eventual cost will be about 35,000 yuan per square metre, a new record for the city. A “land king” site is one where a developer has paid record-breaking prices for land. The Shenzhen government awarded the tender after considering various factors such as the design of the project and selling price. Other bidders include China Vanke , Poly Real Estate and China Resources Holding. It had been reported by mainland media that China Vanke had offered a higher bid but still failed to win the site. Vanke declined to comment on Monday. The winners have to build 100,000 sq metres of residential space which will be handed over to the government. The exhibition centre will be owned by the government. In return, developers get development rights of adjacent hotels, offices and retail space. Developers also could manage the exhibition centre. China Merchants Shekou said in its release that besides boosting its land reserve, the project also offers an opportunity to explore the running of an exhibition business. The successful bid followed a 4.2 billion yuan sale of land on August 18 in the city’s Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong Modern Service Industry Cooperation Zone. Hong Kong developers New World Development and Chow Tai Fook Enterprises bought the plot.