Tuesday, 8 April 2008

What Shimao can do

Group eyeing North Boni boasts long project list
By Miguel Camus
The Business Mirror

WHO would have imagined that Asia’s response to the glamorous and seemingly overexposed developers of the US (think Hilton or Trump) would take the form of the unassuming but unstoppable behemoth that is the Shimao Group?

Headed by China’s second-richest man, Hui Wing Mau, the Shimao Group is at the heart of a vast real-estate empire currently valued at $10.2 billion.

The company has focused most of its projects on luxury and hotel developments, with projects ranging from Hong Kong to Shanghai to the distant interior province of Lanzhou. With China last noting an increase in billionaires (106 from 15) and, according to 2006 statistics, 345,000 registered millionaires, there is no doubt the Shimao Group has a very lofty position in catering to such wealthy clients.

The Shimao Group, now based in Shanghai, has been credited with being one of China’s first real-estate luxury brands when it started in the early 1990s. Since then, it has become the largest publicly traded real-estate developer in China, taking international projects with India’s Oberois and Malaysia’s biggest developer Canal City Construction.

Never a believer in doing things in a small way, the Shimao Group is involved in no fewer than 37 projects in China alone. These projects can mostly be classified as miniexclusive cities where the very wealthy may interact with one another undisturbed.

Another innovation that the Shimao Group is credited with is their creation of the “riviera model,” or the bridging of landscape, waterside, and architecture with environment, natural ecology and artificial landscaping.

In the port city of Shanghai, the Shimao Group owns eight luxury development projects, the most prominent of which is the Shimao International Plaza—the tallest building in Puxi and housing high- end stores and the five-star hotel Le Meridien Shanghai. Other iconic structures are the Hyatt on the Bund and Shimao’s Riviera Garden featuring six world-themed gardens. Shimao’s presence in Shanghai is so pronounced that its properties provide over 10 percent of Shanghai’s five-star hotel needs.

In Beijing is the Shimao Olive Garden, a mixed-use, luxury high-rise development that has views of Beijing’s famed Olympic stadium and the Beijing Sanlitun Project, which is being developed into an entire premium commercial hub.

Dongfanghong Town in Lanzhou is being built as a large-scale commerce center and business city, while in the northern province of Harbin, the Shimao Group is developing Sui-Po free trade zone near the Russian border which will have casinos, a processing district and exhibition centers.

Even Hong Kong, which doesn’t lack for big developers, has received attention with the development of Hong Kong Genesis, a series of ultraexclusive villas at Victoria’s Peak.

The Group also has other developments going, besides residential communities—there is the soon-to- be-completed Shanghai Shimao Wonderland, which will be the first theme-oriented project providing a service package taking into account catering, lodging, transportation, tourism, shopping and entertainment needs. There will also be a five-star hotel built into the cliff with underground rooms.

Apart from its busy project pipeline, the Shimao Group is also noted for its generosity, having recently donated HK$10 million to the China Charity Foundation for relief in disaster areas stricken by a snow storm.

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