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Firm Raises US$123m in Share Sale
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Beijing Capital Land Ltd, one of the city's largest landowners, and a shareholder raised HK$961 million (US$123 million) in a share sale in Hong Kong, according to a sales document sent to investors.


The money will be used to finance projects the company is building and to buy more land, said Richard Taylor, head of equity capital markets at CLSA Asia Ltd.


Real estate investment growth in China accelerated in the first nine months of the year, the National Development and Reform Commission said on Tuesday. Property investment rose 24.3 per cent, 2.1 percentage points faster than a year earlier, indicating government cooling measures have yet to take effect.


Beijing Capital Land's share sale is "logical" because it needs to reduce financial risks, said Stone Shi, an analyst at Sun Hung Kai Securities in Hong Kong, who has a "buy" rating on the company. "They need a lot of money. They have to improve their gearing ratio."


The offer price was "pretty low," which was a sign that "investors are very concerned" about Beijing Capital Land's high gearing ratio, which was 150 per cent at the end of June, Shi said.


The company on Wednesday sold 343.2 million shares at HK$2.80 each, a discount of 13.3 per cent to Wednesday's closing price of HK$3.23, according to an e-mailed copy of the document. The share sale was arranged by CLSA Ltd. Beijing Capital Land issued 312 million new shares for the sale, according to the document. China's pension fund sold 31 million shares, Taylor said.


The company's shares have jumped 42 per cent so far this year, outperforming the 22 per cent gain in the benchmark Hang Seng Index. The stock closed 1.3 per cent higher at HK$3.23 on Wednesday before trading was halted yesterday.


China has imposed new taxes, tightened lending and restricted foreign investment this year after property prices jumped more than 10 per cent in cities such as Beijing.


The government is concerned surging prices may lead to a collapse that could cause an abrupt slowdown in the world's fastest-growing major economy.


Property prices in China have more than doubled since 2000. In the country's 70 major cities, property prices rose 5.5 per cent in the third quarter year-on-year, according to the commission, China's top economic planning agency.


(China Daily October 27, 2006)


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