Shanghai tightens restrictions on home purchase

Xinhua (June 22, 2012 1:49)

BEIJING – Authorities in East China’s Shanghai city have shut another door for house buyers seeking loopholes in local restrictions on home purchase in a move to tighten controls on the property sector, a Chinese newspaper reported Friday.

People without registered permanent residence permits in Shanghai have been forbidden to buy houses in the city even if they pay social insurance premiums at the required amount but not over the required period of time, the Beijing-based China Securities Journal reported.

For non-registered permanent residents to qualify as a legitimate home buyer in Shanghai, one needs to provide certification of paying individual income taxes or social insurance premiums there for an aggregated period of at least one year within the past two years.

However, some buyers who did not pay insurance premiums for that long simply supplemented the required amount to the already paid premiums and were able to make purchases, creating a grey area in the regulation, the report said.

Such acts were no longer allowed from June 15, the newspaper said, quoting sources from local property transaction centers and the Shanghai housing regulatory bureau.

The move followed a ban last July on similar circumvention activities on the individual income tax requirement and came amid government efforts to cool speculation on a relax of property controls.

Since 2010, China has implemented a raft of measures to rein in runaway house prices, including restrictions on home buyers, higher down-payments, property tax trials and the construction of low-income housing.

As China’s economy slowed, there have been growing concerns that, if China’s housing prices fall too much and too soon, it may hurt the country’s overall growth.

However, the Ministry of Housing and Urban-rural Development reiterated earlier this week that the country will steadfastly continue with its property market regulation policies.

The country’s central bank and the China Banking Regulatory Commission both clarified last week that they had made no changes on the home lending policies and risk-weighting for individual mortgage loans.

The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said last week media reports were purely fabricated quoting NDRC sources as saying loosening the grip on the property sector was “a second card to save the market.”

New home prices in several major Chinese cities continued to fall in May, but more cities saw slight price increases from the previous month, official data showed.

In May, 55 of a statistical pool of 70 major cities saw year-on-year drops in new home prices, expanding from 46 in April this year. However, six cities, up from three in April, saw prices rise month-on-month, according to official statistics.

China’s divorce rate increases in 2011

About 2.87 million Chinese couples broke up in 2011, a 7.3 percent increase from the year before, according to statistics released by the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

A total of 9,690 civil affairs bureaus nationwide registered about 2.21 million divorces last year, while another 667,000 divorces were handled by the courts, the report said.

However, the number of couples getting married also increased, with 13.02 million couples tying the knot nationwide, and an increase of 4.9 percent from the previous year, according to the report.

The main age group for people getting married was 20 to 24, accounting for 36.6 percent of total marriages in 2011.

China Daily

490 world top companies invest in China

Xinhua (June 22, 2012 3:38)

BEIJING – A senior commerce official said Friday that so far, 490 out of the world top 500 companies have invested in China and established more than 1,600 R&D centers and regional headquarters.

Transnational corporations have kept investing more in China since the country adopted the policy of opening up to the outside world in the late 1970s. The companies have been playing an increasingly important role in boosting the nation’s economic development, Gao Hucheng, a vice commerce minister, said at a meeting.

Foreign-invested firms have reaped great benefits from this huge market. Sales of these companies exceeded 33 trillion yuan ($5.24 trillion) in China in 2010 alone, Gao said, adding that the nation has become a safe haven and a main source of income for many foreign-invested firms during the international financial crisis.

Meanwhile, China has stepped up its investment in other parts of the world. By the end of 2011, China’s outbound direct investment topped $380 billion.

There were more than 18,000 Chinese-funded companies operating in 178 countries and regions at the end of last year, with total assets reaching approximately $1.6 trillion, Gao said.

Oracle Corp. CEO Larry Ellison to buy most of Hawaiian island of Lanai

Larry Ellison, inset, and the Sweetheart Rock as seen from Manele Bay Resort golf clubhouse on Lanai, Hawaii (CBS/AP/Wikimedia Commons)

(CBS/AP) HONOLULU – Oracle Corp. CEO Larry Ellison has reached a deal to buy 98 percent of the island of Lanai from its current owner, Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie said Wednesday.

The land’s owner, Castle & Cooke Inc., has filed a transfer application with the state’s public utilities commission, Abercrombie said.

The sale price for the property — the vast majority of the island’s 141 square miles — was not immediately clear. The Maui News previously reported the asking price was between $500 million and $600 million.

Representatives for Castle & Cooke, owned by self-made billionaire David Murdock, did not immediately return a call seeking comment from The Associated Press.

Abercrombie said Ellison has had a longstanding interest in the island.

“We look forward to welcoming Mr. Ellison in the near future,” Abercrombie said. “His passion for nature, particularly the ocean is well known specifically in the realm of America’s Cup sailing,” he said.

Abercrombie and Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa met with Castle & Cook last week to go over the prospective deal between the company and Ellison, whose software company is based in Redwood City, Calif.

Murdock bought out fellow Castle & Cooke shareholders for nearly $700 million in 2000 and took the company private.

The major Hawaiian islands, with Lanai highlighted

(Credit: AP Photo)

Lanai had about 3,500 people recorded in the last census, but now State Senator Kalani English, Maui, Lanai, Molokai, Kahoolawe, says the population is down to about 1,900, reports CBS affiliate KGMBin Honolulu.

“It is a major trophy for billionaires to say I own one of the eight major Hawaiian Islands,” English told KGMB.

Lanai is Hawaii’s smallest publicly accessible inhabited island. It is known as the “pineapple island” even though Murdock has closed its pineapple operations to make way for luxury resort and home development.

The island boasts unspoiled charm with 30 miles of paved roads, 400 miles of unpaved roads and no traffic lights. Other people own the 2 percent of the land that Ellison isn’t buying.

According to the Hawaii Tourism Authority, more than 26,000 people visited the island from January to April of this year, a 6 percent decline from the same period last year.

Niihau is Hawaii’s smallest inhabited island, but permission is required to visit.


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