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Property giant China Vanke aims to raise US$1 billion in new shares sale as it prepares ‘to survive’ housing market slump
* Mainland China’s second-largest developer said it will place 263 million new shares on the Hong Kong stock exchange at HK$29.68 apiece
* Funds will help the builder brace for tough times after it unveiled a new slogan, ‘to survive’, last year

Pearl Liu   
Published: 4:52pm, 28 Mar, 2019

Property giant China Vanke aims to raise HK$7.8 billion (US$1 billion) through a placement of new shares as it prepares to deal with a slowdown in the housing market.

Vanke, mainland China’s second-largest developer by sales, said it will place 263 million new shares on the Hong Kong stock exchange at a price of HK$29.68 apiece to raise HK$7.8 billion in capital.

The announcement on Thursday came as the mainland’s developers face uncertainty amid a sharp drop in property sales.

“They will not rake in the big bucks from selling homes this year as they have before,” said Toni Ho, an analyst at RHB OSK Securities Hong Kong. “It’s the best time [for the shares placement] now as the share prices are doing quite well, to get hold of sufficient money to have on hand, a healthier balance sheet and higher liquidity of its H shares to be in a better position to get funded onshore and offshore when the worst comes to the worst.”

H shares is the term given to stocks in mainland Chinese firms traded in Hong Kong.

Vanke has seen its shares surge 19 per cent this year, finishing Thursday at HK$31.55.

The share sale will cut Vanke’s net gearing ratio – a measure of the proportion of borrowed funds to equity – to 27 per cent, much lower than the industry average of 70 per cent.

The move follows remarks by Vanke’s chairman, Yu Liang, at the company’s annual results briefing on Tuesday about the uncertainty in China’s housing market.

“It is difficult to be among the top [developers], feeling the ethereal cold up there,” Yu said in reference to projected home sales growth in 2019.

Vanke did not set any sales target for this year after growth slowed to 14.5 per cent last year from 45.3 per cent in 2017.

In a special letter to shareholders on Tuesday, the chairman said the bull run of China’s property market was over.

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