UPDATE 1-SOHO China sees property curbs ending in 6 months

Wed Sep 28, 2011 4:57am EDT

Related Topics

* Will be "actively buying" in next 6 months

* Looking at properties in Guangzhou and Shenzhen

* Shares ended up over 2 pct, beating main index (Adds comment from CEO)

By Kazunori Takada

SHANGHAI, Sept 28 (Reuters) - Commercial property developer SOHO China will be "actively buying" property over the next six months as it expects government measures to control soaring real estate prices to end within that period, its chief executive said on Wednesday.

Zhang Xin said she expects property prices in Shanghai and Beijing to "shoot through the roof" once the measures are lifted and that now was a good time to buy.

The developer, which had focused in Beijing and Shanghai, was now also looking at properties in Guangzhou and Shenzhen.

"We have about 21 billion (yuan) ($3.3 billion) cash which we intend to make acquisitions in cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen," she told a gathering of foreign correspondents in Shanghai.

"We think the next six months is a great opportunity for us to make acquisitions and so we will be actively buying," added Zhang, who co-founded the company with husband Pan Shiyi.

The country issued a slew of steps, including a maiden launch of property tax in two cities and restrictions on the number of homes each family can buy, since late 2009, to curb speculation and rein in runaway housing inflation, which is fueling social discontent.

China has closed almost all traditional fundraising channels for domestic developers, including bank loans, trust funds and stock market listings, apart from five interest rate rises since last October.

Chinese banks are also cutting their exposure to the real estate sector, concerned about the record high home prices, by granting fewer mortgage loans and demanding higher downpayments or interest rates beyond regulatory requirements, making it harder for people to buy homes.

"Credit is so tight. My personal view is that it's so tight that soon the government has to ease otherwise the whole private sector would be affected.," Zhang said.

Earlier this year, Zhang, one of China's most well-known businesswomen, told Reuters that SOHO China planned to spend 10 billion yuan to acquire land this year, roughly last year's level.

She said on Wednesday SOHO China had spent 11.4 billion yuan to buy projects in Shanghai so far this year but has not made any acquisitions in other cities.

SOHO China, which achieved contract sales of 8.324 billion yuan in the first eight months of the year, posted a 2 percent rise in first-half net profit to 1.75 billion yuan.

SOHO's Hong Kong-listed shares, which have lost 9.17 percent since the beginning of this year, ended 2.14 percent higher, outperforming the main Hang Seng Index's 0.66 percent drop.

($1 = 6.399 Chinese Yuan) (Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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