Shui On Sells Project to China Life for 3.32 Billion Yuan

Shui On Land Ltd., controlled by Hong Kong billionaire Vincent Lo, is selling a project in Shanghai for 3.32 billion yuan ($545 million), the second asset sale by the developer in a week.

Shui On will sell its entire stake in the company that owns the Taipingqiao project in Shanghai’s Huangpu district to China Life Insurance Group Co., according to a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange today. The developer on Nov. 29 sold office premises and car park spaces in a project in the western Chinese city of Chongqing for 2.4 billion yuan, according to a separate statement.

Shui On has been selling assets and is considering a spinoff of the Xintiandi unit as it seeks to pay down debt and improve its cash position. New York-based Brookfield Property Partners last month invested $500 million into Xintiandi, which operates the popular entertainment complex in Shanghai.

“The company’s cash flow is very tight, and the management has said before it’s planning to sell some assets to improve this,” said Johnson Hu, a Hong Kong-based property analyst at CIMB-GK Securities Research, in a phone interview today. “The spinoff may take longer than expected as the valuation is low.”

Land Demolishing

The company booked a 192 million yuan pretax gain from the sale of the Taipingqiao project in Shanghai, according to today’s statement. It will use part of the proceeds to develop existing and pipeline projects.

A lot of Shui On’s redevelopment property projects include land demolishing, which is costly both in time and money, CIMB-GK Securities’s Hu said.

Chinese insurers have been boosting property holdings after the government in 2010 allowed them to invest in real estate to improve returns and better match maturity between assets and liabilities.

China Life Insurance Group is parent of the country’s largest insurance company China Life Insurance Co.

Shui On shares were unchanged at HK$2.47 as of 2:22 p.m. in Hong Kong, after it made the announcement at the noon trading break.