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Blackstone eyes China's property market
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The sluggish real estate market in China doesn't seem to be deterring overseas investors such as Morgan Stanley and Blackstone Group.

On the contrary, Blackstone is showing an increasing interest in long-term investment in China's property market.

Blackstone recently launched a commercial asset management company with Hong Kong-listed developer VXL Capital, the Shanghai Securities News reported on Wednesday.

Blackstone holds a 90 percent stake in the new company, which will engage in investment, operation and management of commercial property projects on the Chinese mainland.

The US private equity giant made its way into China's property market in June through buying a 90 percent stake in a commercial building in Shanghai from VXL Capital.

"Blackstone plans to use the project as a platform to seek profitable property deals in the future," the newspaper quoted an unnamed source as saying. "Therefore, the new company will also be responsible for project investment, seeking commercial property investment opportunities, especially in China’s large and medium-sized cities."

As its second property investment in China this year, Blackstone bought a new shopping mall in Shanghai for over 4.5 billion yuan ($660 million) from Chinese developer Super Ocean Group, the Oriental Morning Post reported last month.

Blackstone's acquirement and trading team in China reports directly to the US headquarters and can even skip the jurisdiction of Antony Leung Kam-chung, chairman of Blackstone Greater China, according to the Shanghai Securities News report.

To achieve its goals, Blackstone has to find appropriate partners. VXL Capital had been quite successful in budget hotel asset management on the Chinese mainland before reaching a cooperative deal with Blackstone.

In April, Blackstone raised $10.9 billion for property funds, setting a record in its history.

Morgan Stanley plans to invest in China more than one-10th of a $10 billion global property fund it is raising, media reports revealed Wednesday.

The latest global capital flow report released by Jones Lang LaSalle indicated that investment in the Asia-Pacific region remained strong in the first half of 2008, totaling $55 billion, down 0.3 percent year-on-year. Investment in dollar terms grew 3 percent in the China market over the same period of last year.

(Chinadaily.com.cn September 3, 2008)

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