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Property News Weekly Digest
〈Asian Post, January 18, 2020〉Chow Tai Fook buys gems firm in mainland expansion
Acquisition of Enzo Jewelry comes after the retailer plans to shut as many as 15 stores in Hong Kong

Hong Kong-listed Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group (CTF), the world's second-largest jewellery retailer by market value, has acquired mainland firm Enzo Jewelry for an undisclosed amount, four days after announcing plans to shut a fifth of its shops in the city.

The acquisition was in line with the retailer's focus on expanding on the mainland, a spokesperson said.

"Enzo can leverage CTF's retail and industry know-how to generate greater value to its customers," said Adrian Cheng Chi-kong, CTF's executive director.

Luxury natural coloured gems maker Enzo operates 60 stores on the mainland.

CTF said on Tuesday it would not renew leases of as many as 15 of its Hong Kong stores expiring between April this year and March 2021 amid a challenging retail landscape.

〈China Daily, January 17, 2020〉The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge plays an important role in the development of the Greater Bay Area. [Photo by Wang Shanglin/For China Daily] Recently, a policy suggestion put forward by a member of the Guangdong Chinese Peopleˇs Political Consultative Conference, who is also a Hong Kong property tycoon, sparked considerable public discussion. The report, which was submitted to the conferenceˇs annual session, proposed that the daily quota for mainland residents relocating to Hong Kong under the One-Way Permits Scheme (OWPS) be halved from 150 to 75 to ease cross-boundary tensions amid ongoing social conflict in Hong Kong. The suggestion, which had been raised by ¨localists〃 in the past, was considered by some to be a bold statement. However, after some in-depth analysis, I believe the daily quota is not a matter to be concerned about.

〈Asian Post, January 16, 2020〉China's middle class feel the pinch closer to home
White-collar workers and entrepreneurs may have reaped rewards of an economic boom, but now their confidence is shaken as wages and property values take turn for the worse

While the US-China trade war has been on the lips of politicians and analysts from Beijing to Washington, millions of middle-class Chinese are increasingly anxious about a problem closer to home: the sliding value of their incomes and assets as the country's breakneck economic growth begins to stutter.

The country's gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to grow to 100 trillion yuan (HK$113 trillion) in 2020, with per capita GDP having already passed the US$10,000 mark last year, both much to the pleasure of Beijing, although this is not being felt by well-educated, white collar workers and middle-sized entrepreneurs.

"There is no doubt that our family's net worth will shrink this year," said Alice Zhou, a Beijing-based businesswoman in her 40s.

"This can be confirmed from the obvious decline of business and property prices among my friends and I in the past couple of years."

〈The Standard, January 15, 2020〉Primary sales at a six-year high
Hong Kong's new home transactions hit a six-year high in 2019 of nearly 19,000 deals - a 20 percent rise from a year ago - but total transaction value slid 9 percent to around HK$204 billion, according to data from the Sales of First-hand Residential Properties Authority.

The primary property market recorded around 11,000 deals in the first half of 2019, before sentiment weakened as new trade uncertainties and social unrest arose in the second.

A total of 2,790 new units were sold in March, the best month last year, boosted by the temporary easing of Sino-US trade tensions after the Lunar New Year holiday.

Developers, meanwhile, tried to sell leftover units in the first six months after the government pushed ahead with a vacancy tax.

Under the proposed policy, developers will be subject to a vacancy tax if new apartments remain unsold for 12 months after completion unless it is rented out.

〈Asian Post, January 14, 2020〉'Boris effect' spurs renewed interest in UK property
Hong Kong and mainland investors are stepping up their interest in British residential property again after the election of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has pushed for a definitive deadline on taking Britain out of the European Union.

"Chinese and Hong Kong buyers are not waiting any more, they are starting to invest now that they can see a clearer Brexit resolution is coming," said Nick Whitten, director of residential research at Jones Lang LaSalle. His firm has recorded about a fourfold increase in inquiries from Hong Kong investors for British homes in the second half of 2019, of which 80 per cent were from potential first-time buyers.

The real estate consultancy recorded twice as many property sales in Britain in the latter half of 2019 as in the first half from local and foreign investors, despite an air of despair in the country's political environment. Last year, British housing transactions fell by 15 per cent while average home prices in London slipped 1.9 per cent, according to JLL.

Hong Kong investors were the biggest buyers of British properties from 2015 to 2018, according to data compiled by Real Capital Analytics. They slipped to fifth as of November last year as they withheld committing to large-ticket spending due to political issues in Britain and at home.