China Vanke pays 3b yuan for stake in secondary home agent Homelink
China Vanke, the country’s second-largest developer, will pay 3 billion yuan (US$435.6 million) for a minority stake in privately held Homelink Group, the nation’s largest secondary home agent, underscoring the vast potential value of China’s existing home market.
China Vanke said on Wednesday night that it is “bullish” on Homelink’s future. No specific share ratio was disclosed.
The announcement came just three months after Sunac China Holdings – China’s seventh largest developer controlled by tycoon Sun Hongbin–-acquired a 6.25 per cent stake in Homelink for 2.6 billion yuan. Sun said at the time of the purchase in January that he is optimistic about China’s pre-owned home market, and that he is interested in the company’s financial services platform.
Sunac’s stake valued Homelink at 41.6 billion yuan, a leap from the 36.8 billion yuan valuation given in a fundraising nine months ago. Assuming the latest valuation is largely in line with the January fundraising, Vanke may have acquired a 7 per cent stake in Homelink. Both Vanke and Homelink declined to comment when contacted by the Post.
A social media account run by a Caijing real estate journalist reported that 2.6 billion yuan will be invested in a Homelink agent and the remainder in a subsidiary of Homelink Group. Though no clear cooperation plan has not been ironed out, the primary purpose is to “jump on the bandwagon” as early as possible, the account said, referring to Vanke’s interest in the real estate agency business.
Founded in 2001 in Beijing, Homelink has prospered alongside booming growth in China’s secondary home market. Homelink’s net assets totalled 1.16 billion yuan by mid-2016 with a total of 130,000 employees in 8,000 agencies across China, according to a filing by Sunac. Homelink’s pre-tax profit jumped to 1.2 billion yuan in 2015, from 137 million yuan in 2014.
Last year around 5 trillion yuan worth of second-hand homes were sold nationally, according to Homelink’s research academy. In Beijing, pre-owned home transactions were 5.67 times that of new home sales last year, while Shanghai’s secondary market was worth four times that of new homes.
Vanke and Homelink have a track record of working together, having launched Wanlian, a joint venture focused on Beijing’s home decoration market in 2015.
Vanke’s Beijing entity holds 60 per cent of the joint venture, while Homelink has a 40 per cent stake.
However, experts cautioned that the real estate agency business can be volatile and subject to regulatory risks.
Administrative curbs designed to cool the housing market in first-tier cities since March have dampened pre-owned home sale by 30 per cent on year.