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Developers continue to raise funds for land purchases

By Wang Ying (China Daily)

10:29, May 23, 2013

Models of residential property on display in Guangzhou. (Photo/China Daily)

China's 10 largest property developers have raised nearly 38 billion yuan ($6.2 billion) in funding at home and abroad since the start of 2013, nearly equal to last year's total, and analysts say the borrowing binge is likely to continue.

The demand for capital has mainly come from land purchases as domestic developers continue to bid for high-premium plots, said Zhang Dawei, Centaline's research director.

The 10 developers raised 41.3 billion yuan in capital during the whole of last year, according to figures from Centaline Property Research Center.

Public information showed that in eight days from May 3 this year, three land parcels were auctioned off separately for record prices in Shanghai, Guangzhou, in Guangdong province, and Changsha, the capital city of Hunan province, showing that the land market - which fell sharply after the execution of the central government's latest property tightening policies - had picked up significantly.

"Domestic developers are raising funds overseas because the borrowing costs are much lower than in the domestic finance market," said Zhang.

"The funds raised are being used to repay maturing loans and stockpile prime land."

About 50 Chinese developers raised an estimated $23 billion overseas through issuing bonds and through trusts, according to the Centaline research.

Another notable change is that borrowing costs for some leading developers are dropping sharply, helping them stockpile land at lower cost, added Zhang.

He said that he thought the central government's latest tightening policy had had a limited effect in bringing property prices down, and that institutional investors still regard China as a premium destination for property investment.

Other recent industry figures from Hong Kong-based Midland Realty showed that the amount of land auctioned off in Shanghai during the first four months of the year soared 113 percent year-on-year, in Shenzhen the volume surged 227 percent, and in Hangzhou, 273 percent.

Hui Jianqiang, director of real estate information provider Beijing Zhongfangyanxie Technology Service Ltd, said: "We are seeing apparent growth in domestic financing, but developers are also taking the opportunity of raising capital outside China."

According to James Macdonald, head of Savills research China, a large number of offshore corporate bonds have been issued by HK-listed mainland developers.

In January, 16 companies raised about $6.85 billion, more than half the total US dollar-denominated debt issued by mainland developers in 2012, he said.

Among Hong Kong-listed developers, Guangzhou-based Agile Property Holdings Ltd has raised 12.88 billion yuan in senior notes and bank loans so far this year, China Resources Land Ltd has raised around 9.35 billion yuan, and China Overseas Property Ltd has raised 17.38 billion yuan.

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