Property trust makes good start on HK bourse

Guangzhou Investment Real Estate Investment Trust (GZI REIT), the first mainland property trust listed in Hong Kong, had a solid debut yesterday, with its share price rising 14 per cent.

The shares ended at HK$3.5 (45 US cents) apiece from an offer price of HK$3.075 (39 US cents).

GZI REIT offers a 100 per cent dividend payout for the fiscal years from 2006 to 2008.

The potential net profit will be no less than HK$201 million (US$26 million) for the 2006 fiscal year.

GZI REIT is the most popular REIT that has been listed so far on the Hong Kong market, with its retail portion of shares 495 times over subscribed during the initial public offering (IPO).

Its popularity even beat two local REITs that were recently listed in Hong Kong. Link REIT, which started trading its shares on November 25, saw its retail portion of the IPO over subscribed by only 18 times. Prosperity REIT was 260 times over subscribed.

GZI REIT raised US$230 million after pricing its shares at the top of the proposed range last Saturday.

However, Guangzhou city government's recent decision to further rein in the property market may affect the trust's future performance.

A 20 per cent capital gains tax on property transactions will be levied from January 2006 in a bid to cool soaring property prices in Guangzhou, where GZI REIT is based, the city government announced.

The measure casts uncertainty over the Guangzhou property market. It is believed that this could severely dent investors' interests.

But GZI REIT Chairman Liang Ningguang played down a possible adverse impact, saying the measure simply targets the speculative market instead of the property-leasing market.

"GZI REIT is very different from ordinary residential property trusts," said Liang. "The underlying properties in the trust are all prime commercial buildings in the city and this market will not be affected by the new measure to any extent."

Executive director of Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission, Alexa Lam, said that the three recently-listed REITs raised only US$5 billion. He believes that there is room for more REITs to be listed in Hong Kong.

Source: China Daily

People's Daily Online ---