Chinese real estate developer Shimao Property Holdings, together with its billionaire boss Hui Wing Mau, have reportedly acquired a downtown Sydney office tower for over A$390 million (US$339 million), as Chinese investors continue to snatch up Australian real estate.
According to a report in The Australian, Fujian-born Hui along with the Hong Kong-listed developer that he controls, have bought the 28-storey, 47,842 square metre block from Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, GIC, with the potential goal of converting it to residential use.
GIC had put the building up for sale during May of this year as demand for Australian assets by Mainland buyers began to rise rapidly.
China Property Baron Invests in Australia
Hui, who also goes by his Mandarin name, Xu Rongmao, went from the entrepreneur owner of one of China’s first private hotels to a property magnate ranked as the country’s 16th richest person by Forbes. Hui who has a personal fortune estimated at $5.4 billion, is now a naturalised Australian citizen.
Among Shimao Property’s assets on the mainland are the Shimao International Plaza in Shanghai, a chain of 10 movie theatres, six hotels, and more than 37 housing projects.
Hui’s interest in the Sydney office building first surfaced in September.
Shimao Joins Club of Chinese Buying into Sydney
The move by Shimao to acquire 175 Liverpool Street in Sydney’s CBD comes among a flurry of investments in Australian real estate by Chinese property groups.
During August, Dalian Wanda, a developer owned by billionaire Wang Jianlin, announced plans to invest up to $1.57 billion into Australian projects, starting with a $1 billion hotel in Surfer’s Paradise. Hui’s neighbor at #15 on Forbes’ Rich List, Xu Jiayin of Evergrand Real Estate has also reportedly been looking at projects in Australia and recently spent $33.4 million to buy a Sydney mansion.
In April this year, Country Garden, a Foshan-based developer controlled by China’s richest woman, Yang Huiyan, bought its own site in Sydney for $65 million.
Shanghai’s Greenland Group has been perhaps the most aggressive Chinese player in the Australian market, having spent more than $1.28 billion in the last two years to acquire three sites in Sydney, and another in Melbourne, for developing new housing. The state-run developer also is pursuing a downtown Brisbane casino project with a company belonging to James Packer.