In 2015 it was defaulting developers and cross-border binging that dominated Asia’s real estate headlines. This year, the defaulting disease seems to have eased, only to be replaced by co-working fever.
Also grabbing investor attention in 2016 were record-setting deals by Li Ka-shing, would-be deals that went wrong and much more. So join us as Mingtiandi recounts the top stories for each month of the year that was.
January: Shanghai Boy Billionaire Buys Angelina’s Sydney Hangout
Sheds and celebrities won the eyeballs of Asia’s real estate investment community in January, as readers tuned in for a Mingtiandi scoop on the merger of fast-growing logistics platforms e-Shang and the Redwood Group during the first month of the year. While the newly merged company could be on its way to a multi-billion dollar IPO, that still proved to be only the second-most visited story of the month, getting edged out by the saga of a 27-year-old Shanghai property heir buying Angelina Jolie’s Sydney hangout for $37.5 million.
February: HSBC Cuts Off US Mortgages for Chinese
In February, the top story once again focused on where mainland money might be headed, or at least in this case, on what might be slowing it down. A new obstacle to Chinese borrowing US dollars for American home purchases shot to the top of Mingtiandi’s charts that month as HSBC shut off mortgages for mainlanders in the beautiful country. The second most popular story was an outbound account of another sort, as our article on JLL East China MD Anthony Couse heading to Singapore to take on the property consultancy’s APAC CEO role also proved a crowd pleaser.
March: Anbang’s $14B Starwood Bid Grips the World
In March, the saga of Anbang Insurance’s ultimately unsuccessful $14 billion bid for Starwood Hotels & Resorts dominated the news with three of the top ten stories on Mingtiandi that month recounting the twists and turns of the dramatic bid, and its still unexplained withdrawal. Not to be completely outclassed for intrigue, our account of a New York City probe into a scandal over how a former non-profit nursing home was ultimately sold to China Vanke for $116 million was Mingtiandi’s second most read story for March.
April: Li Ka-shing Says Singapore has “Rule of Law” and Anbang Packs It In
He may not be more powerful than a locomotive, but the Hong Kong investor known as “Superman” was still strong enough to muscle aside the competition and grab the top spot with Mingtiandi’s readers in April, as our account of Li Ka-shing’s development company praising Singapore’s rule of law while investing in new projects in the city shot to the top of the charts. Not quite ready to give up the spotlight, Mingtiandi’s analysis of where Anbang’s Starwood bid went wrong stuck around long enough to grab the number two spot for the month.
May: Chinese Developers Bid for Aussie Political Influence – in Cash
May is usually a temperate month in this part of the world but the real estate headlines sizzled with our account tying Chinese real estate developers to unusually generous donations to Australian politicians leading all other stories. The impact of Chinese capital on the Vancouver market took second place among the nearly 70 articles we published that month, as our account of how Chinese crowdfunders flipped some rundown apartments in Canada’s west coast hub in just 7200 seconds seems to have struck a nerve.
June: What Vincent Lo Knows and the US Will Find Out
Donald Trump may have surprised a lot of people last year, but New World’s Henry Cheng and Shui On’s Vincent Lo learned long ago not to put anything past the future US president. Our story of how Trump sued his erstwhile partners took top spot in June. Not all was politics and lawsuits, however, as our account of Blackrock’s sale of Singapore’s Asia Square Tower 1 to the Qatar Investment Authority for $2.45 billion took second place for the month.
July: China Vanke Buys Blackstone’s Malls for $1.9B
Big names from China and the US teamed up to take the top spot in July with the story of China Vanke’s $1.9 billion purchase of the SCP retail platform from Blackstone proving most popular with Mingtiandi’s readers as summer got into full swing. Another name brand climbed its way into second place as our account of US co-working giant WeWork’s opening of its first Asia location in Shanghai became the second most read story during July.
August: Anbang is Back Again to Bid for Intercontinental Hotels
That irrepressible guy from Anbang elbowed his way back into the spotlight in August as a report of the mainland insurer’s potential $7 billion bid for the FTSE-listed Intercontinental Hotels Group was the most read story for the month. Another mainland institution came in second spot for the month as our account of Shanghai Municipal Investment (the developer of the Shanghai Tower) partnering with New York’s Extell Development on the $2.98 billion Central Park Tower project in Manhattan was a hit with Mingtiandi readers.
September: WeWork Hits Hong Kong
Apparently unsatisfied with their second place finish in July, WeWork came back in September to place the top story on Mingtiandi’s charts. Our report of the $16 billion shared office giant opening their first Hong Kong location edged out the story of Li Ka-shing-linked Prosperity REIT agreeing to buy a Kowloon office tower for HK$1.9 billion. The WeWork account looked even better when the Prosperity REIT deal was rejected by its board weeks later.
October: Li Ka-shing Sells Century Link for Nearly $3 Bil
Not to be outdone by any co-working upstarts, Hong Kong’s best known investor retook the top spot in October with what he does best – a monster transaction. The story of Li’s Cheung Kong Property selling the Century Link complex in Shanghai to an ARA fund backed by China Life for $2.98 billion led all others for the month. In second place was not co-working, but co-living as an innovative residential investment by Hong Kong’s Pamfleet captured reader attention.
November: Greenland Backs Away From Dodgy NYC Deal
Trouble in big bad New York City again drove a mainland developer to the top of the rankings in November, although this time it was state-run giant Greenland getting linked to scandalous dealings. The Shanghai-based developer worked hard to disassociate itself from a deal to acquire a stake in a Manhattan hotel from the Malaysian smarty-pants behind the 1MDB scandal, but not hard enough to escape the eyes of Mingtiandi readers. Coming in second place for November was Shanghai co-working startup naked Hub grabbing $33 million in funding from a consortium led by Hong Kong’s Gaw Capital.
December: GLP Hires JP Morgan to See About Selling Shed Empire
Really big sheds again got their much deserved turn in the spotlight in the final month of the year – thanks to a potential $6 billion deal. Our story of Global Logistic Properties retaining investment bank JP Morgan for a “strategic review” of its business, including a potential sale, proved the biggest draw for readers during December, Coming in second was a story from outer space – or at least the images were – as our collection of time-lapsed images of China’s biggest cities proved hard for readers to resist.
What’s next for 2017? If I knew I might tell Blackstone and GIC – but only if they agree to the consulting fee in advance. For those of us without crystal balls stay tuned for all the stories as they happen and we will do our best to keep you informed in the new year.