GBA News: 11/03/2021

Shenzhen relents on land sales

Shenzhen has relaxed the conditions for taking part in land sales, one of the first among China’s local authorities to backtrack from the draconian measures that have sent the entire country’s real estate industry into a tailspin. According to the new rules laid out by the Planning and Natural Resources Bureau of China’s technology metropolis, more than one developer will be allowed to bid for land at the same price, where the competition will be based on how many homes they can build under the “affordable” price category. The bureau put 11 plots on the market last week, the third land sale this year. The relaxation followed a disastrous round of land sales when 206 land parcels were withdrawn from auctions around the country since September, as the central bank’s tight caps on loans backfired and drove cash-starved and risk-averse developers to the sidelines. The tepid uptake was also the market’s response to the government’s move to centralise land sales across 22 large cities into three annual auctions. SCMP

HK expats buy more abroad

More Hong Kong-based expats are buying properties in their home countries or other overseas markets, boosting the number of transactions by 30 to 40 per cent this year, according to agents and bankers. If the trend holds, Hong Kong’s population of expatriates – who account for a large portion of the home leasing market in the city, particularly the high-end segment – will decline, likely impacting the overall rental market, analysts said. The number of persons employed by companies whose parent firms are located outside Hong Kong has fallen to 473,000 this year, down 4 per cent from the peak of 493,000 in 2019, the latest figures from the government showed, suggesting fewer foreign-born residents in the Asian financial hub. SCMP

Ping An scores poorly on coal exit plan

Chinese insurers have performed poorly in a global ranking that examines the industry’s approach to fossil fuel exit policies, with Shenzhen-based Ping An Insurance ranking just 21st among 30 companies assessed with two other Chinese insurers ranking even lower. The scorecard – called “Insure our future” – is in its fifth year and is published by a global NGO coalition group under the same name. It focuses on the 30 most important insurers in the power sector worldwide, and ranks them according to their policies on coal, oil and gas insurance, and their overall approach to exiting fossil fuel. Progress on both their underwriting standards and investment policies is assessed. SCMP

Foshan too dependent on property

Research by GoguData, a Shenzhen-based advisory firm, paints a worrying picture for cities with high exposure to the property market. More than 20 large and medium-sized cities were found to be highly dependent on land-sale revenue. The list was led by Foshan, a city in the Greater Bay Area well known for its ceramics industry, as land-sale income was 1.8 times that of its total budgetary fiscal revenue, which excludes land sales and central government transfers. SCMP

Nanshan tops China’s districts

Shenzhen’s Nanshan district, home to its top tech companies such as Tencent, ranked first among the top 100 Chinese districts this year, followed by Guangzhou’s Tianhe district and Shenzhen’s Futian district, a report from CCID Consulting said. China Daily

Macau records worst-ever October, but visitors are coming back

Macau has just seen its worst gross gaming revenue (GGR) for October – typically the highest month of gaming revenues – due to the string of Covid-19 cases in the city in late September which led to the tightening of entry and exit regulations. Data from the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau shows that casino revenues fell to as much as 40% to MOP4.37 billion, the lowest figure this year. MDT.

However, since the quarantine restrictions imposed by neighboring Zhuhai were lifted on October, visitor numbers have recovered to their previous levels before the lockdown. The city’s tourism chief expects them to average 30,000 a day until the end of the year. GGRAsia

Tell us what you think