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Greenland group expands land bank, buys Hangzhou sites for $224 million

Greenland group expands land bank, buys Hangzhou sites for $224 million

China’s sixth largest real estate developer in terms of sales volume has not been slowed down by the Chinese government’s tightening financing constraints

The Greenland Group continued to expand its land bank last week with the acquisition of a pair of land parcels in the scenic city of Hangzhou for a combined $224 million.

It won the two mixed- use sites from the Hangzhou Lin’an district government’s land auction last week at an average price of $952 per square metre. The parcels are located next to each other within the Qingshan Lake Technology Park in Lin’an, a western suburb of the city that has easy access to metro lines, freeways and the Xiaoshan International Airport.

This pair of land acquisitions was able to happen in one of China’s wealthiest cities despite government restrictions on lending having reduced access to all but the largest developers—and demand suppression measures have raised risk levels in the country’s real estate industry.

According to public records for the land tender, the first of Greenland’s new prizes, labeled as High-Tech Unit 07-B/R-02, is approved for construction of up to 58,800 sq m of space—25% of which is required to be developed for commercial tenants. The whole site amounts to 29,000 sq m of land area and was purchased for $55.91mn. The second portion of the site, High-Tech Unit 07-B/R-01, was approved for $167mn.

The acquisition was Greenland’s latest expansion of its land bank this year, as it acquired more than seven times its site buys in the first half of 2018, compared to the same period last year. In the last month itself, the Shanghai-based Fortune 500 company added 10 more plots to its reserve, spending a total of $859 million.

The sites are spread across China’s Sichuan, Shanxi, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Henan and Anhui provinces and cover an aggregated land area of 1.68mn sq m— and could yield up to 3.36mn sq m of real estate.

Many major real estate developers including state-owned China Overseas Land & Investment and CIFI Holdings have slowed down their land purchases as the country’s real estate industry faces reduced liquidity and thinning margins due to a prolonger tightening of government policy and a weaker macroeconomic environment.

Research from Chinese investment bank CICC indicated the proportion of failed auctions climbed to 9.4% in the first three weeks of August, compared to 7.3% over the whole of July, reported Reuters. Shrinking interest in taking on new real estate projects is also reflected in the slowing growth in investment in the sector on the mainland. Investment in the sector grew by 9.2% in August, according to figures from China’s National Bureau of Statistics, slowing down from 13.2% year on year in July.

Greenland has led the race of land acquisition in 2018, achieving year on year growth  of 728% in terms of land area in the first half of the year. The next fastest growth was achieved by Yango holdings, which boosted its land buys at a 595% rate, while state-owned COFCO’s land purchases grew by 286%. In the first half of this year, Greenland added 20.22 mn sq m to its land reserve, compared to 2.44 mn sq m in the same period last year, according to data provided by real estate services company E-House China.

A source familiar with the transaction told the local media: “The land market is regaining its senses right now with generally lower (land sale) premiums. As local governments release more land to tame property prices, the developers are given more choices. Greenland’s strategy is to go with the market; it will grab the opportunity wherever it appears.”

China Overseas Land chairman and CEO Yan Jianguo was quoted as saying : “After the drop in bidder numbers and land premiums, there should be (buying) opportunities in the second half” at a recent earnings conference.

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