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China Vanke launches mall in Shenzhen

In the wake of its founder and CEO stepping down, real estate developer China Vanke has launched its Longcheng Vanke mall in Shenzhen.

It is the first project for the retail specialist since it led a US$1.9 billion acquisition of the Blackstone-controlled mall platform SCP Group last year. Vanke CEO Wang Shi announced last week he would no longer be a board member of the 33-year-old company.

Longcheng Vanke is a two-storey mall spanning 50,000 sqm and including leisure, sports, entertainment and F&B offerings. It is already more than 60 per cent leased, with tenants including such international brands as Adidas, Decathlon and Nike, as well as homegrown F&B outlets including Gebama and Naixue Tea. The mall also features a China Film Stellar cinema.

In Vanke’s home city, the mall builds upon the company’s experience with Longgang Vanke Plaza, a mid-end shopping centre nearby that opened at the end of 2013.

Last September, Vanke committed about RMB4.9 billion (US$583.1 million) of its own funds in the acquisition in partnership with other firms of the SCP Group (SZITIC Commercial Property) from private equity giant Blackstone. Blackstone had picked up a 40 per cent stake in SCP, which owns mid-sized community shopping malls in decentralised areas, in 2013.

Vanke’s retail portfolio last year included 91 active projects and 67 planned projects in 35 cities across China. Vanke’s SCP arm is reported to have five active projects in Shenzhen, with several extra properties in the pipeline.

Fifteen high-end shopping malls are expected to launch in Shenzhen this year, with 55 per cent of the space being in decentralised areas, according to a market report by global property consultancy Savills.

The citywide retail occupancy rate stood at 94.8 per cent in the first quarter of this year after sliding one point from the previous quarter, says Savills.

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