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Swire learns lessons as it builds a business (3)

By Qiu Quanlin in Guangzhou  (China Daily)

08:25, February 28, 2013

Swire Properties' portfolio on the mainland currently amounts to approximately 1.2 million square meters in gross floor area, with five projects under development or finished. Its total projected investment on the mainland is about 30 billion yuan.

Besides the current properties in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengdu, the company is also looking for locations in other lower-tier cities, according to Bradley.

"The existing offices are regionally based in the north, south, east and west. But we are not just thinking about the four cities. We are looking for significant and higher-opportunity locations in second-tier cities," he said.

Bradley's confidence in the company's future growth comes from China's speeding urbanization.

Urbanization will be the main driver of economic growth for the future, Vice-Premier Li Keqiang said at a recent meeting discussing reform. He said that domestic demand, especially from unprecedented urbanization, will overtake exports to become the main growth engine for China's future economy.

Large-scale urbanization and related development projects are likely to drive China's GDP growth to 8.4 percent in 2013, according to the World Bank.

Due to weakening exports and the government's efforts to cool the real estate sector, GDP grew 7.8 percent last year, the slowest since 1999, sources with the National Bureau of Statistics said.

"Most of the tough measures are targeting the residential sector. Actually we support any measures that will help create a more stable market, although we are not involved in residential projects," Bradley said.

However, he told China Daily that the company is also looking for opportunities to develop residential projects in China.

"You know that in Hong Kong we have developed a very good name in the high-end residential sector so we've been looking to do some similarly high-end projects here," he said.

Bradley said the company will introduce a more local business model to develop residential projects. "Probably, the first time we do it we will combine residential with retail... which is a very common approach by local developers," he said.

"If we do residential, we will have retail components, which can help feed each other. We need to find the right location and pay the right amount for the land," said Bradley, without revealing a time schedule.

China will strictly implement and improve tightening measures on the housing market and keep the policies continuous and steady, said China's State Council recently.

Is it a right time for Swire Properties to enter the market? Bradley said: "I can only say that we've been getting ready for that."

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