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December 7, 2009

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Mystery man grabs prime properties

A MYSTERY man yesterday splurged 353 million yuan (US$51.7 million) to buy 54 luxury residential units in Shanghai.

The man - in his late 30s or early 40s, carrying the No. 18 bidding card and reportedly from neighboring Zhejiang Province - refused to make any comment about the deal or himself and left the auction room soon after signing documentation.

The 54 apartments, which include 39 units at Shimao Riviera Garden in Pudong and 13 in the Jufu Building at the intersection of Fumin and Julu roads in downtown Jing'an District, have a combined gross floor area of 9,644 square meters.

The apartments went under the hammer to the buyer for an average 36,599 yuan per square meter, regarded as way under market value because of the bulk purchase.

"The price was really good, and the buyer should make quite a big profit from the deal," said Henry Wang, a branch manager at Shanghai Centaline Property Consultants Ltd, the city's leading real estate brokerage chain. "The buyer will most likely sell the apartments in small batches over a pretty long time frame to maximize profit."

Eleven bidders, either individuals or companies from Shanghai and neighboring Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces and a person from overseas, took part in the 50-minute afternoon session at the Shanghai International Commodity Auction Co Ltd, according to Fan Ganping, the company's vice president.

Each bidder was required to pay a 15 million yuan deposit, Fan said.

In the secondary market, apartments at Shimao Riviera Garden go for about 45,000 yuan per square meter and those at Jufu Building for about 30,000 yuan per square meter.

The other two units are one in Kerry Residence on Huashan Road and the other in New Century Building in the western Hongqiao area, both in Changning District.

The most expensive is a 938 square meter penthouse in Shimao Riviera Garden with an indoor swimming pool and a roof garden overlooking the Huangpu River.

This apartment alone may fetch about 100 million yuan or even more, according to industry experts.

The seller of the 54 units is not known, though media reports said it might be a state-owned company.

"I don't feel regretful about losing the bid as it's a good experience for me to participate in the auction," said one of the 11 bidders, who is in the textile industry and preferred to remain anonymous.

"Home prices in Shanghai are expected to grow further over coming years and I will keep looking for other investment opportunities."

Sales of new homes, excluding those designated for relocated residents under urban redevelopment projects, jumped to a four-month high in Shanghai in November amid continuously robust sentiment.

Average prices climbed 10 percent from October to 18,686 yuan per square meter.

Transaction volume of existing properties surged 41 percent in the city last month with average prices gaining 4 percent to 14,300 yuan per square meter, according to a report released yesterday by Century 21 China Real Estate, another leading brokerage chain in the city.

A joint report released on Friday by the Urban Land Institute and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP ranked Shanghai No. 1 among Asia-Pacific cities for both real estate investment and development for 2010.


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