International Property

Chinese developers submit another record bid for land, this time in Singapore

Chinese developers, which have been snapping up land parcels in Hong Kong at record prices in the past 18 months, are now extending their reach to Singapore.

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 May, 2017, 9:50am
UPDATED : Friday, 19 May, 2017, 10:58pm

Chinese developers are continuing their aggressive overseas shopping spree with two firms jointly snapping up a land plot in Singapore for S$1 billion (US$720 million), setting a new record for the island-state.

Hong Kong-listed Shenzhen developer Logan Property Holdings and Shandong-based Nanshan Group beat 12 other bidders in a government land sale to jointly win a 954,000 square foot plot on Stirling Road, according to a statement from Singapore’s Urban Redevelopment Authority on Thursday.

It is the first time a residential site reached the S$1 billion mark in the history of the Government Land Sales (GLS) Programme in Singapore. The price is equivalent to S$1,051 per square foot.

“The investment is in line with our overseas expansion strategy and the price is reasonable,” Lai Zhuobin, chief financial officer at Logan, told the South China Morning Post.

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Stirling Road will be Logan’s first project outside Greater China and comes just three months after it partnered with another Chinese developer KWG Property to pay HK$16.86 billion for a plot in Ap Lei Chau island, Hong Kong. That price translated to HK$22,118 per square foot, the most expensive residential site purchased in Hong Kong’s history.

The Shenzhen developer, with a market value of HK$23 billion, established its overseas investment arm last year.

Lai said Singapore and Hong Kong will be Logan’s priority for overseas expansion in the near future, adding that the developer will seek more housing investment opportunities in these two markets.

Expectations of further yuan depreciation, increasing competition for land at home, as well as the central government’s tougher measures on home transactions since late last year, have pushed more local developers to seek opportunities outside the mainland.

John Wong, a property analyst at Hong Kong-based Philip Securities, said Logan is going in the right direction.

“The company’s projects have been too focused on China’s Guangdong province in the past. The overseas projects will help it diversify risks amid yuan’s potential depreciation,” he said. However, he added that the aggressive price bidding may affect the company’s sales margins.

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Lai said the land purchase price would be paid through the company’s offshore capital which is already in place, but didn’t disclose the proportion of the stake it will own in the project.

Logan’s liquidity position is strong. By the end of 2016, its cash to short-term debt ratio was 285 per cent due to strong cash inflows from robust contracted sales last year.

Home sales are rebounding in Singapore after three years of decline due to the easing of some property restrictions in March.

Sales of new homes in the first four months of this year reached 4,696 units – more than double the 2,220 new units sold in the same period last year, The Straits Times has reported.

The strong recovery signs have attracted both local and foreign investors to make bullish bids for land in Singapore. On average, these investors have paid a 29 per cent premium, the highest level in at least five years, according to data from Cushman & Wakefield.

Nanshan Group, a low profile Yantai-based conglomerate engaged in businesses such as aluminium, textiles and garments, finance and real estate, tourism and education, has been active in Singapore’s government land auctions for many years.