(Refiles to fix spelling of database in third para)
By Alex Frew McMillan
HONG KONG Aug 31 Agile Property Holdings
, one of China's largest property developers, said on
Friday its chairman has been arrested by Hong Kong police in
connection to a case of alleged indecent assault.
Chen Zhuo Lin, the company's founder, was arrested on
Thursday, Agile said in a filing to the Hong Kong stock
exchange. The arrest comes at a time when Chinese property
companies are under pressure from government efforts to make
housing more affordable in the world's second-largest economy.
According to a Thomson Reuters database, Chen is 49 and
earned a salary of 3.7 million yuan last year from Agile. Like
many listed Chinese developers, the company patriarch continues
to control the bulk of the stock. His family trust, Top Coast
Investment, owns 63 percent of the company's shares.
Local media reported that a personal assistant of Chen's had
levelled the accusations. When contacted by Reuters about the
alleged assault prior to Chen's arrest, the company failed to
respond. Hong Kong police could not immediately be contacted for
Chen, who has yet to be charged, has been released on bail,
the company said. Agile said the arrest "has not affected and
will not affect the normal business and operations of the
Agile's shares fell 2 percent in early trade, but are still
up 32 percent so far this year as investors factor in easier
lending conditions in China.
Agile posted property sales of 31.5 billion yuan ($5.0
billion) in 2011, ranking it ninth among listed Chinese
The arrest comes as mainland home builders are facing
intense funding pressure after more than two years of
restrictions by Beijing to curb property speculation and hold
back what were run-away gains in home prices. That has resulted
in hefty restrictions on how many homes Chinese people can buy,
hampering sales for developers that rely on advance purchases to
fund existing projects.
Buyers have been shifting their attention to companies with
strong brand names, concerned that weaker developers may run
Agile, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year,
is based in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, but has been
nimble in expanding into western China as home builders look to
diversify away from the country's "first tier" cities, where the
price gains have been steepest.
($1 = 6.3496 Chinese yuan)
(Reporting by Alex Frew McMillan; Editing by Richard Pullin)