Chinese realty firms' share issues put on hold

16:20, April 28, 2010      

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Plans by real estate companies to raise capital through share issues face a moratorium amid the government's efforts to curb run-away housing prices.

Stock issue plans submitted by 45 such companies, amounting to 110 billion yuan ($16 billion), could be affected, sources close to the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) told China Daily.

The figure would be more than double the amount developers raised from the domestic stock market in 2009, when housing prices rebounded robustly, reaching historic highs in some places.

The suspension will give officials in charge of land price administration at the Ministry of Land and Resources (MLR) an opportunity to investigate if, or how, companies employed illegal or improper methods to manipulate market prices, official sources said.

The government's decision to rein in rocketing housing prices has reportedly triggered the stock market decline for the past week, although economists are divided over its effect on the economy.

Li Daokui, an economics professor at Tsinghua University, told China Daily that he doesn't think the tightening of real estate market regulation will directly dent the overall economy because urbanization will continue to drive growth.

Zhang Xiaojing, an economist at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said it will take two to three months for the government to assess the full impact of the tightening policy.

On April 17, the State Council, or the cabinet, released 10 guidelines that call for all-out efforts to maintain stability in the housing market.

They also said banks can refuse loans to people buying third houses in areas with high property prices.

Since then, one government agency after another has released matching regulations.

On April 25, the CSRC and the MLR announced that the two agencies will jointly approve stock issue plans by real estate companies, including initial public offerings (IPOs).

Fund-raising proposals submitted to the CSRC by 45 companies face a longer waiting time now that the MLR has joined the screening process.

MLR officials specializing in land price matters are playing a major part in the screening process, China Daily has learned. And few - if any - companies are likely to get the green light, analysts said.

Su Xuejing, analyst at Changjiang Securities, said the policy change makes it "extremely difficult" for developers to issue stocks any time soon.

In the long run, the joint screening by the CSRC and the MLR could become part of the regulatory regime, he said.

Asked to assess the impact of the tightening guidelines, Li Jianfeng, analyst at Shanghai Securities, said he believes developers will suffer an industry-wide slowdown, but in the short term, most will hold up well thanks to remarkable sales growth last year.

Li asked investors to avoid real estate stocks, even though prices have dropped markedly.

Dong Xian'an, analyst at Industrial Securities, said the tightening policy will help bring down housing prices in some places but cautioned that some major developers will be negatively affected.

Cao Xute, analyst at Sinolink Securities, noted that while large developers come under central government scrutiny, smaller developers may raise money locally.

Source: China Daily


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