Alibaba, lenders team up for SME financing

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd teamed up with seven banks on Tuesday, jointly offering loans of up to 10 million yuan ($1.6 million) to China’s small and medium-sized enterprises as the e-commerce conglomerate looks to further build a credit rating system based on online transaction histories.

The cooperation involves Bank of China Ltd, China Construction Bank Corp, Ping An Bank Co Ltd, China Merchants Bank Co Ltd, Bank of Shanghai Co Ltd, Postal Savings Bank of China Co Ltd and Industrial Bank Co Ltd.

According to the Hangzhou-based e-commerce giant, companies that had export transactions of more than $100,000 through Alibaba’s online platforms over the past six months can apply for such loans. They can get 1 yuan worth of bank credit for every $1 in exports.

The online transaction record is the only thing required for the loan.

Wu Minzhi, vice-president of Alibaba Group, said that about 89 percent of SMEs in China find it difficult to get loans because they can not satisfy banks’ requirements.

“As an e-commerce company with lots of transaction data on our platforms, we want to make it easy for all of the export-focused companies to do business,” Wu said.

By narrowing the credit gap between SMEs and banks, Alibaba is looking at the bigger picture of building an environment based on big data that can facilitate every aspect of trade, from information to data and logistics, he said.

Wei Qiang, general manager of Shenzhen One Touch Business Services Co Ltd, Alibaba’s export service subsidiary, said that more than half of the export-focused companies are expected to move their brick-and-mortar trade business to online platforms in the next 10 years.

“That will create a trade service market that is estimated to be as big as 10 trillion yuan,” he said.

As they cope with rising production costs in China, many Chinese exporters are keen to get financing services. He Guodong, manager of Shenzhen Xingjisheng Electronics Co Ltd, said he secured a loan of 5 million yuan from China Construction Bank through the financing service offered by Alibaba.

“My company had an export volume of 260 million yuan in 2013. In the past, banks rarely lent to us, because they didn’t trust the financial data we offered,” he said. He said transaction records provided by Alibaba are very convincing, as it acts as the third party for such transactions.

Li Ye, an analyst at the Internet consultancy Analysys International, said traditional banks can actually benefit from the financing service provided by Alibaba.

“The costs for banks to do due diligence in order to grant loans to SMEs are very high. There are so many SMEs and the amounts they want to borrow aren’t much compared with big enterprises. So big data can be used as an important way for banks to control credit risks without making heavy investments,” she said.

夏威夷房地产 – Shanghai developer to build big in LA

After unveiling its $2 billion investment plan in London last month, Shanghai-based Greenland Group announced new details of its $1 billion Metropolis Los Angeles project on Feb 14.

The proposed Metropolis Los Angeles project is expected to be one of the largest mixed-use developments on the West Coast and to reshape the Downtown Los Angeles urban landscape. Metropolis is the Greenland Group’s first investment in the US.

Phase one of Metropolis is expected to include the development of a four-star luxury hotel and a residential tower with units ranging from studios to two bedrooms. The hotel will have 19 floors with 350 rooms, and the residential tower will be 38 stories high. Construction is slated to start early this year and be completed by mid 2016.

“Founded in Shanghai 22 years ago, Greenland Group has since expanded to more than 80 cities across China and is known as a leading developer of high-quality, high-rise residential and commercial buildings and urban complexes,” said Zhang Yuliang, chairman and president of Greenland Group.

“International expansion — particularly in the US market — is a strategic priority for us,” Zhang added. “We are making significant investments in the US and as one of the iconic cities of the world, Los Angeles is an important place for us to be.”

“We are excited to welcome the Greenland Group to Los Angeles,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. “This billion dollar investment will not only bolster Downtown Los Angeles’ economy by creating hundreds of jobs and generating on-going tax revenue, but it will bring the kind of world-class amenities that will enhance the appeal of our city center nationally and internationally.”

Los Angeles Councilmember Jose Huizar said, “The revitalization and economic resurgence of Downtown Los Angeles over the last decade has really put it on the map as a dynamic urban center — the kind that every great city should have. The message is clear, Downtown LA is open for business and that is attracting prestigious international companies, such as Greenland Group, to make a long-term financial commitment in Downtown LA and be a part of this momentum. We welcome Greenland Group’s investment and look forward to this project’s contribution to the success of Downtown for years to come.”

For phase one of the development, Tishman Construction is providing program and construction management services. Gensler, a leading design firm, will serve as the architect. Turner Construction will be the general contractor and SPAN Architecture will be the interior designer. Rider Levett Bucknall will provide surveying services.

Located on Francisco Street between 8th and 9th Streets, the property is the largest undeveloped site in Downtown LA’s central business district and is situated near popular arts and entertainment, retail and dining establishments such as LA LIVE, FIGat7th, Bunker Hill, the Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Museum of Contemporary Art and the soon-to-be-opened Broad Museum.

Downtown Los Angeles has experienced an unprecedented renaissance in the last 15 years and is considered to be the place to live, work and play. It is home to a growing residential population of more than 53,000 who are seeking an active, urban lifestyle and more than half a million office workers.

“We believe Los Angeles’ location as a gateway between Asia and North America is ideal in attracting an international clientele who are seeking investment opportunities and an exciting lifestyle near arts and entertainment, sports and fine dining,” said Zhang.

“Greenland Group has strong confidence in the market demand for this project,” Zhang added. “Los Angeles is the second largest city in the United States with the largest seaport and industrial center on the West Coast. It has a stable economy and a large population base with one of the largest concentrations of international immigrants.”

In 2013, Greenland Group was ranked 359th on the Fortune Global 500, 55th among the Top 500 Chinese companies and number one among Chinese real estate enterprises. The company has built or is currently building 23 skyscrapers, with four of its buildings ranked among the 10 tallest in the world.

China House Hunters Get Ready For ‘Golden Week’

The Golden Week holiday is coming in China on Oct. 1, and with it, hundreds of thousands deep pocketed Chinese scouring planet Earth (mostly U.S.) looking for real estate.

The Golden Week holidays are often used by savvy real estate marketers as a time to build relationships with Chinese buyers they can’t meet in person during most of the year.

“This travel surge will impact different markets in different ways,” says Andrew Taylor, co-CEO of, a Chinese real estate portal. “Some countries will see more viewings, others will transactions. If you get a buyer in from China and they want to see properties, sometimes you just have to drop everything and drive them around for a couple of days. They have limited time before they have to fly home, and it’s in your interest to find a property for them while they are in country.”

The Chinese are becoming the hottest foreign buyers of American real estate, especially on the West Coast. They hold a combined $13.1 trillion in investable assets, according to China Merchants Bank and Bain & Company.
And approximately $655 billion is allocated to overseas real estate markets, according to the bank. Moreover, some 60 million middle class Chinese are said to be looking at overseas real estate, says Juwai.

Juwai said their website sees a 66% surge in property searches in the two weeks prior to Golden Week holidays. During the holiday itself, mobile usage of doubles as more property hunters access property listings from their smart phones.

Wealthy Chinese are buying all around the world, with the U.S. their favorite place for house hunting.

They’re buying in Orange County, California, and in Queens, New York.

Christine Lu, founder of Affinity China, is hosting an event in Hawaii next month for China’s affluent.  One of the topics is how to buy your American dream home.

“During the week, we’ll be providing complimentary tours of Hawaii’s best neighborhoods to give visiting Chinese an overview of Hawaii’s real estate market. They will tour some open houses and schedule follow-up private appointments with real estate partners,” Lu said.

Some Chinese walk the Great Wall, others go to Shanghai Disney.  China’s one percenters ship off the mainland to buy a 5,000 square foot home in Oahu.

Golden Week started back in 1999 as a means to get Chinese to travel around the country to visit family. Traffic often comes to a complete stop, with people getting out of their cars to stretch or exercise. Those who want to avoid all that will be airport bound, and will be knocking on the doors of many American realtors in two weeks.

Kenneth Rapoza, Contributor

China’s Property tax may be expanded

Second-tier cities with rapidly increasing housing prices might be subjected to property tax, business newspaper China Times reported on Wednesday, citing officials from the State Administration of Taxation.

“Expanding the pilot city project for property tax is an important agenda for tax and fiscal departments this year,” said the official, who requested anonymity.

“The eventual timing and plan will be decided upon by central government.”

Exactly what cities might actually have the tax was not revealed.

A property tax pilot program has, so far, been limited to Chongqing and Shanghai.

Previous reports said Hangzhou could be a possible candidate. An official from Hangzhou’s tax bureau did not confirm or deny the report’s accuracy.

Zhang Zhijie, chief analyst with the China Index Academy, a property market research institute, said the possible plan for Hangzhou is similar to Shanghai’s but with a higher tax rate.

Shanghai only taxes newly bought property, and homes of less than 60 square meters are exempt.

Some other cities, including Nanjing, Shenzhen and Qingdao may also face the tax, China Times said.

Business Shanghai gaining favor with wealthy as financial center

Shanghai gaining favor with wealthy as financial center

Shanghai has overtaken Hong Kong and Singapore to become the world’s fifth most important financial center, and Beijing is considered the second most influential political city, in a survey that gauges the importance of global cities.

The joint study, by leading international property consultancy Knight Frank LLP and Bank of China International Ltd, said Shanghai – which is striving to become Asia’s top financial center – had passed its two most traditional Asian rivals, who have slipped to 7th and 8th respectively.

New York, London, Tokyo and Paris take the top four spots as financial centers, said the report, while the Chinese capital Beijing is second only to the US capital Washington DC in terms of political importance.

The Wealth Report 2013 gathered the views of 15,000 people with at least $30 million in net assets – which it called “high net worth individuals” – gauging attitudes in four areas: economic activity, political power, quality of life, and knowledge and influence.

Other top-tier mainland cities featured in the survey include Guangzhou and Shenzhen, which Liam Bailey, the head of residential research with Knight Frank, said he expected to see grow strongly in global importance over the next few years.

The study ranked Beijing at 15th overall this year, with Shanghai at 24th, according to the report.

“By 2023, our survey of high net worth individuals will show Shanghai and Beijing joining the top 10 at the expense of Geneva and Paris,” said Bailey.

Commenting on the results, Qi Xiaozhai, director of the Shanghai Commercial Economic Research Center, said he thought the two Chinese cities should have higher positions, given their rising lifestyles.

Beijing is still 40th in terms of life quality, and Shanghai is 39th, said the report.

“This reminds us that as we develop the economy we also have to consider lifestyle issues, such as protecting our living environment,” said Qi.

Knight Frank’s accompanying luxury investment index showed that collectable assets such as art, fine wine, classic cars, coins and watches have accrued cumulative gains of 175 percent over the past 10 years, and 6 percent last year alone.

It said that wealthy Chinese were leading that trend, reshaping the global markets for art as well as antiques, jewelry and other luxury items.

Additionally, the report showed an evolution of the map of the world’s wealthy, with a new concentration of wealth in Asia.

Globally, the number of billionaires will increase by 85 percent over the next 10 years, with the biggest increase being in Asia, or 119 percent, it predicted.

The top country for billionaires is still the US with 543 and that will grow by 103 percent by 2022, but China in that time will increase from 154 to 483, an increase of 214 percent.

Knight Frank also predicted further gains in prime property values in Shanghai and Guangzhou, particularly, as both remain targets for investment from other areas in China, benefiting from growing national wealth, especially in lower-tier cities.

CHINA – Demand for luxury goods driving commercial real estate market

By Wu Yiyao in Shanghai (July 12, 2012 16:06)

Aggressive expansion by luxury and fast-fashion brands in China is driving the country’s retail property investment market, according to the latest report released on Thursday.

A report by Cushman & Wakefield, the privately held commercial real estate services company, said rapid growth in the second half in consumer expenditure and surging enthusiasm for luxury brands, are pushing up demand for retail property, especially in Beijing and Shanghai.

Citing a recent survey by Bain & Co, which pointed out that luxury sales in China had experienced 25 percent growth in 2011, the Cushman report said luxury consumption in China shows no sign of slowing down, with the country now the world’s third-largest luxury market.

The result is rising rents and limited supply of top retail space in key city center locations, said the report.

A typical example of the type of luxury name vying for the prime spots is Italian style icon Gucci. The number of Gucci stores in the Chinese mainland has increased from four in 2004 to 46 in 2011 and continues to grow in 2012, the report said.

The Chinese market accounted for 22.6 percent of Gucci’s total revenue last year and its year-on-year growth reached 15 percent in the first quarter of 2012.

In the first half, transaction volumes within the overall luxury sector in Shanghai reached $2.52 billion, of which retail property transactions reached $110 million, accounting for 4.2 percent of the city’s total retail transactions.

Shanghai’s five key retail areas all saw increasing rents in prime retail space.

Representing a 1.03 percent quarter-on-quarter growth, average monthly retail property rentals climbed to 1,904 yuan ($299) per square meter.

Nanjing West Road saw average monthly rentals hit 2,100 yuan per square meter in the second quarter, the highest among the five key areas.

Overall market vacancy rates in Shanghai remained almost unchanged at just 6 percent.

Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Beijing, Suzhou, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Tianjin and Wuhan are regarded as the most attractive cities among retail realty investors, with vacancy rates of current retail property all below 7 percent, the report said.

Retailers are also taking up office buildings as they find a growing need for decent space for administration.

In Shanghai, about 29 percent of prime offices have been leased to international retailers, the report added.

“We are seeing strong competition from retailers for prime sites in both Beijing and Shanghai. While high levels of new supply will keep overall rental growth in check, we believe there is potential for further growth in prime rentals in both cities in the medium term,” said James Hawkey, executive director of retail services for Cushman & Wakefield China.

Fast-fashion brands are also expanding rapidly, especially in second- and third-tier cities.

Established names such as Zara and H&M opened more than 20 stores in 2011, while Uniqlo had more than 120 stores in the Chinese mainland by the first half of 2012, the report said.

The number of fast-fashion stores in 45 cities across China in the first quarter of 2012 saw a 9.5 percent quarter-to-quarter increase, the report said.

Retail investment in China has also been growing aggressively during the past two years.

In 2011, China’s retail investment volume reached 46.9 billion yuan in 2011, double the amount of 2010, according to the report.

With ongoing real estate curbs, developers are facing increasing pressure on financing, said Jack Ye, Cushman’s national director of capital markets in China.

With interest rates dropping, domestic investment will become more active, said Ye.

Zhang Ping, the company’s director of research, meanwhile, added that investing in China’s retail real estate is inevitably risky, especially for institutional investors, but in the long run, retail realty investment presents growth potential.

The company noted that increased investment in the sector by individuals, as the residential sector has cooled.


Leading Chinese city continues to draw dream seekers


As the largest city in China and one of its most vibrant urban centers, Shanghai continues to attract visitors from home and abroad eager to explore this eastern metropolis.

Once a paradise for thrill-seekers and adventurers, Shanghai has regained its economic and cultural glory in the past few decades. It is both a financial center and a global port. The city of more than 23 million people also made worldwide headlines in 2010 when it hosted the World Expo.

Shanghai is about pleasure as much as business. Many say its real face lies in the contrast between modern skyscrapers and the shikumen, or local residential compounds.

Shanghai is the birthplace of Haipai culture, which combines southern culture with Western culture and represents as what admirers consider to be the soul of a city that never sleeps.

Here are a few initial offerings to experience this pearl of the Orient.

1. Tianzifang

Named after an ancient Chinese painter, Tianzifang was a little known residential area until 2006 when it was renovated as a space for art galleries, cafes and fine restaurants. All sorts of creative businesses have also sprung up in the area in the past few years.

Chen Yifei, one of the most recognized Chinese contemporary painters, has set up a studio here.

Many say Tianzifang is perfect for hanging out and gift shopping, as well as people watching. Despite its rapid development, Tianzifang has maintained its original flavor.

2. Jing’an Temple

Located in the busy West Nanjing Road, Jing’an Temple offers “peace and tranquility”, as its name suggests, amid the insanely swift urban pace of life.

The temple was built more than a thousand years ago and has been relocated and renovated several times.

Jing’an is visited by Buddhists and tourists praying for good luck and peace, and can be extremely crowded during the New Year festivities. The temple consists of many halls and houses the largest sitting jade Buddha in China.

The compound is surrounded by modern office buildings and luxurious shopping centers, and is only a short walk from the subway station.

3. The Bund

This waterfront, located by the bank of the Huangpu River, is one of the most iconic sights in Shanghai, a physical reflection of the city’s rise and evolution over the last century.

It is home to the headquarters of many multinational financial institutions and luxury hotels, showcasing architectural styles from various countries, including Britain, France, the United States, Italy, Russia, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands and Belgium.

At the northern end of the Bund, Waibaiduqiao, a century-old bridge that has featured in numerous films and movies, leads to the inner city.

The Bund recently underwent a major facelift. In the morning, locals practice taichi and walk on the riverside. During the day, it is packed with visitors. At night, it is one of the best spots to enjoy the spectacular skyline of Pudong, across the Huangpu.

Visitors can also take a ferry or the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel across the river to get to the other side of the city, Pudong New Area.

4. Sheshan Mountain

With a height of less than 100 meters, Sheshan is Shanghai’s only “mountain”.

Within an hour’s drive from downtown, Sheshan provides a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of urban life. Sheshan National Forest Park is Shanghai’s only natural forest park covering about 400 hectares. Sheshan Mountain Catholic Church, said to the largest church of its kind in the Far East, is located on the top of the mountain, along with an observatory.

The nearby Sheshan International Golf Club boasts some of the most beautiful courses in the country and has been hosting the annual WGC-HSBC Champions, a world golf championship event, since 2006.

Wining and dining

Shanghai cuisine, like the city itself, is known for its sophistication and delicate touch.

Just like its urban population, Shanghai offers dishes from all over the country. From upscale dining in designer restaurants on the Bund to casual snacking at street stalls, eating in Shanghai can be an enjoyable experience, regardless of the price.

The xiaolongbao steamed buns, juicy pork wrapped in paper-thin flour skins, are among the most popular local snacks.

Nanxiang Xiaolong (Nanxiang Steamed Buns Restaurant) is known to offer some of the best xiaolongbao, while Xiaoyang Shengjian restaurant (Yang’s Fry Dumpling) offers a crispy version of the dish.

Red-braised pork, sweet-sour ribs and spicy crabs are also representative of Shanghai cuisine.

Reflecting its mix of East and West, Shanghai has many top Western restaurants. Michelin-starred dining on the Bund, as well as cozy Western eateries in the city’s alleys, await.