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Property Developers Still Keen to List in HK
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Cool-down measures imposed by the central government in May have not soured mainland property developers' enthusiasm to list in Hong Kong.


That is the message from Kenny Suen, managing director of survey firm Vigers Asia Pacific Holdings.


Many developers are planning to list, mostly from second-tier cities rather than giants from Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, signalling the rise of the mainland's vast smaller cities with populations of more than 1 million, Suen said.


"We have been assisting five to six property developers to float H shares in Hong Kong this year and next," he said. Vigers is helping them valuate their assets, a must prior to any proposed listing.


Without naming any of the listing candidates, however, Suen said all of them are from the mainland's second-tier cities in East and Northwest China.


"At least one or two will successfully float shares in Hong Kong this year," he said, expecting more newcomers to join the pipeline as "a lot of smaller players now are able to meet the listing requirements in Hong Kong."


To raise an amount of between HK$5 billion (US$640 million) and HK$7 billion (US$900 million) each, these medium-sized firms are expected to be the next big things on Hong Kong's stock market. Most of the mainland's top developers such as Guangzhou R&F Properties, China Overseas Land and Beijing Capital Land have already traded their shares in Hong Kong.


"It's time for smaller players, which are growing very rapidly," said Suen.


Liao Qun, an economist with China CITIC Bank in Hong Kong, said the listing spree of these firms goes with the boom of second-tier cities' property markets, whose growth even outpaced large cities.


On the cool-down measures, Suen said their aim was to boost supplies of low-cost houses instead of slowing down the market as a whole.


"The demand is still there," he said, citing a swelling middle class on the mainland.


He also supported his point with an experience in Beijing where thousands of buyers queued at a Vigers office, bags of cash in hand, for housing units newly launched by China Resources Enterprises, which hired Vigers as its agent.


In May, the central government announced it would lift the down-payment ratio to 30 percent for houses of more than 90 square metres, amid other policies, to rein in rampant investment in the high-end property sector.


(China Daily July 5, 2006)


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