Category Archives: Economy

Rise Of New Chinese Collector Continues As Chinese Antiquities Remain “Recession Proof”

Astronomical Prices Paid For Historical And Quality Pieces In Recent Asian Auctions Defies Global Economic Woes As More Chinese Collectors Get In The Game

In October, Sotheby's will put on a large-scale sale of Asian art in Hong Kong. Will The New Chinese Collector continue to flex his (or her) muscles at that sale?

Since good works by historical artists like Yue Minjun are becoming more scarce, Chinese collectors are expected to continue to flex their muscles in upcoming auctions of Chinese contemporary art

Hardly any industry has escaped the global economic slowdown unscathed, and art is no exception, but recent auction results indicate that the art market — or at least pockets of the art market — are coming back to life. As the Wall Street Journal reports today, in some recent auctions some pieces have sold for exponentially more than their estimates, surprising collectors and market analysts alike. The common bond shared by most of these pieces? They were Chinese — or, if not Chinese, Asian:

Last week, the longest string of Asian art sales since the Zodiac clock dispute was held in the U.S.—and amid the most entrenched art-market recession in nearly two decades, the auction prices of many more than a handful of pieces went through the roof. At the Sotheby’s sale of works from the collection of Arthur M. Sackler, for example, the auctioneer sang out fast-rising numbers, first in English, then Chinese, as if he were rising in the elevator of some fantastically tall Hong Kong skyscraper.

The emergence of the New Chinese Collector is a subject we’ve followed pretty much since our inception, and is a subject that is endlessly fascinating simply because it’s such a new phenomenon. While, technically, Chinese people have collected art for a few thousand years — with the exception of a few Mao-era decades where the practice was virtually nonexistent but for a few elite art lovers here and there — the New Chinese Collector has only existed for around 20 years, and arguably even less than that. This collector base was out in full force in recent auctions of Chinese and other Asian art — in New York, London and Hong Kong — and the motivation, desire and intensity of the Chinese collector is becoming somewhat legendary right before our eyes.

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Mainland Shoppers Set To Flock To HK For Golden Week

1.8 Million Tourists And Shoppers Made The Trip Last Year; Will This Year See Similar Figures?

Photo Courtesy Hong Kong Tourism Board

Photo Courtesy Hong Kong Tourism Board

Hong Kong retailers, hoteliers and merchants of all shapes and sizes are getting ready for the second of two “Golden Weeks” which take place annually in China — the first celebrating Chinese New Year and the second beginning on National Day (Oct. 1) and continuing through the Mid-Autumn Festival (Oct. 3) until finally ending on the 8th. For Hong Kong’s luxury retailers, Golden Week has traditionally provided a much-needed boost to their sales, particularly as fall begins and the flow of foreign tourists slows down significantly.

For many mainlanders, however, Golden Week is a chance to hop over the border and do some serious shopping. As Hong Kong retailers aren’t saddled with the same high sales and luxury taxes as those in the mainland, shoppers from throughout China often take advantage of the timing of Golden Week to enjoy the cultural ambiance of Hong Kong while stocking up on expensive products that would — at home — cost up to double the price.

Today, the New York Times Globespotters blog gives a glimpse into the fun (and chaos) of Golden Week in Hong Kong, when millions of shoppers (many of whom have saved up throughout the year for their HK shopping spree) converge on this small but densely-packed city to queue up for hours and open their wallets:

European designer emporiums, jewelers and gold shops will all be packed, as mainland Chinese rush to buy goods that are both cheaper, and more likely authentic, than back home. (Unlike China, Hong Kong has no sales or luxury taxes.) For upscale shopping, avoid the crowds by trying department stores like Lane Crawford instead.

As far as the local government is concerned, you can’t have too many festivals. During this hectic period, there is also the Hong Kong International Arts and Antiques Fair from Oct. 3 to 6, and the Hong Kong International Jazz Festival from Oct. 1 to 15. Jazz and antiques aren’t big Chinese tourist draws, so they might be another way to escape from the maddening crowds.

In addition to these festivals and events, this year’s Golden Week will also coincide with Sotheby’s Autumn Auction of Contemporary Chinese and Asian Artwork, taking place on October 6 in Hong Kong. It’ll be a great opportunity for luxury buyers who have come over from the mainland to bid on some domestic contemporary artists and maybe take home a few Yue Minjuns, Zeng Fanzhis or Cai Guo-Qiangs in addition to the boatloads of Cartier, Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Rolexes they’re going to tote back over the border.

World Gold Council Planning Huge Sales Push In Rural China

Council Hoping Government Stimulus Measures Will Spur Consumption In Notoriously Frugal Rural Areas

China is one of the world's top gold markets, owing to its growing middle-class consumption and reliance on gold as a traditional hedge

China is one of the world's top gold markets, owing to its growing middle-class consumption and reliance on gold as a traditional hedge

Shanghai Daily reports today that the World Gold Council has started a major sales drive in rural China, banking on indications that the country’s second- and third-tier cities have more sales potential than their first-tier counterparts in terms of gold consumption. This sales push follows similar drives by antiques, visual artsshopping center and luxury car companies to attract customers in China’s interior — where any semblance of “luxury fatigue” has yet to sink in and the middle class is seeing gradual growth.

As one of China’s traditional hedges, the World Gold Council is banking on gold’s allure to buyers in remote areas both for its value as well as its cultural resonance.

“Rural areas showed better-than-expected demand for gold in the first half in China,” said Gerry Chen, business development manager China of World Gold Council.

China is the only country in the world where gold jewelry demand has risen in the aftermath of the world financial crisis, the council said. Sales in China’s mainland rose 9 percent in the first half, while global demand contracted 8 percent.

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China Now World’s Fastest-Growing Diamond Market

Country Should Overtake Japan As Second Largest Diamond Market By Sales Volume Within The Year

Diamonds are a "must have" for China's growing luxury consumer class

Diamonds are a "must have" for China's growing luxury consumer class

Falling demand for luxury products of all shades has vaulted China to the top of many lists this year, as demand in developed markets has fallen for everything from luxury cars to five-star hotels. With China’s massive population and growing middle class, even gradual growth in demand can mean a great deal for luxury brands, so diamond producers can continue to be optimistic about the potential for their products in China — soon to be the world’s second largest diamond market by sales, if the projections of Freddy Hanard, chief executive officer of the Antwerp World Diamond Centre, are correct.

As the Financial Times writes today, Hanard predicts that diamond sales in China should continue the double-digit growth they saw in the first half of the year to continue throughout the second, and says that sales could possibly double in 2010. As the thirst for luxury products continues to spread in China’s second- and third-tier cities, and wealthier Chinese maintain their desire to diversify luxury and high-value holdings — something that we have seen in recent years as they’ve increasingly purchased luxury cars, gold, rare watches and jewelry, fine wine, contemporary art from China and elsewhere, and real estate — diamonds will probably remain strongly in demand according to all indications.

“China is the world’s fastest growing diamond market. And it can go very fast. It is still discovering diamonds,” said Mr Hanard.

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Wynn To Seek $1.6 Billion In Hong Kong IPO: WSJ

IPO Follows Record Revenue In Macau Last Month And Indications That Beijing Will Loosen Visa Restrictions F0r Mainland Chinese

Macau, the "Vegas of the East," is bouncing back to life after a tough year

Macau, the "Vegas of the East," is bouncing back to life after a tough year

The Wall Street Journal reports today that Las Vegas-based casino operator Wynn Resorts is looking for as much as US$1.6 billion (HK$ 12.6 billion) “based on pricing set over the weekend for a Hong Kong listing of the company’s Macau assets next month.” This IPO could precede others by foreign casinos in Macau, as the article notes that Wynn competitor Sheldon Adelson may also be eyeing a Hong Kong listing for his company as it emerges from the global economic downturn — which put a sizeable dent in several construction projects that had been slated for the Venetian Macau last year.

The relatively quick rebound of the Chinese tourist (or, even more likely, Cantonese gambling enthusiasts from Hong Kong, Shenzhen and elsewhere in Guangdong province) has injected a much-needed dose of optimism among major companies in Macau, which depend greatly on the continued spending and investment of mainland Chinese visitors and companies as well as the capital and expertise of foreign casino operators like Wynn to keep the former Portuguese colony’s growing economy running smoothly.

Over the weekend, Wynn and its bankers set a price range of between HK$8.52 and HK$10.08 per share for the IPO, the person said. The company is offering 1.25 billion shares, equivalent to 25% of the equity of Wynn’s Macau operations, the person added. The company had earlier been expected to raise about US$1 billion in its offering.

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China’s Balancing Act: Moving Inland For Sustainable Development

Foreign Investors Look To China’s Underserved Interior For New Opportunities For Expansion, Tapping Vast Potential

China's coastal east has benefitted most from the country's 30 years of dramatic growth. But the inland west may be catching up (albeit slowly)

China's coastal east has benefitted most from the country's 30 years of dramatic growth. But the inland west may be catching up (albeit slowly)

The images that many in the world conjure up when thinking of 21st century China are a mixed bag of glittering metropolises (concentrated in the coastal east) and ancient sites like the Great Wall and Forbidden City. But these two extremes really don’t paint an accurate picture of the country as a whole, which is both vast and by-and-large underdeveloped. Although the Chinese government has worked to improve infrastructure and build up the country’s inland areas through the ongoing “Go West” campaign and stimulus spending, many smaller urban areas in China remain untapped resources for domestic and foreign investors looking to build their brands or expand their current operations in China.

This week, the Global Supply Chain Council looks at several areas in China  likely to become prime targets for foreign investment, as inland regions are further developed and median incomes grow. According to their findings, areas like the Midwest and even the restive Northwest are “blank slates” with real long-term potential:

Xinjiang, China’s largest autonomous region and a former key stop on the ancient Silk Road, has once again become a choice of investment in recent years despite simmering ethnic instability.

The giant French retailer Carrefour Group pioneered the trend, becoming the first multinational company in the region when it opened one of its supermarkets in Urumqi in 2004. Even as the region recovers from a recent ethnic clash on July 5, government newspaper People’s Daily reported that Jean Luc Lhuillier, vice-president of Carrefour China, said the group plans to invest more in Xinjiang.

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An Urban Oasis In Hong Kong

The Masterpiece Looks To Become One Of The City’s Most Exclusive Residential Towers

Apartments at The Masterpiece feature breathtaking views of Hong Kong -- and have pricetags to match

Apartments at The Masterpiece feature breathtaking views of Hong Kong -- and have price tags to match

The Standard today profiles the Masterpiece
, a luxurious residential tower in Hong Kong’s Tsim Sha Tsui district. Even in a city like Hong Kong, which is no stranger to extravagant residential towers, the Masterpiece stands out:

The exceptionally spacious apartments, featuring a floor-to-floor height of 11 feet and two inches, have a neutral interior that creates a warm and harmonious ambience.

The motto for the bar is if you have got it, flaunt it, and the wine cellar that is at the heart of it is the perfect showcase for your French and other vintages to relatives, friends and colleagues.

The master en suite bedroom continues the neutral-hued design. An atlas feature on the bedroom wall exudes a cosmopolitan feel, and the walk-in closet offers storage aplenty while the full-length mirror deepens the sense of space.

The other bedrooms also exhibit well-thought-out designs. One of them features a Japanese feel that continues the cosmopolitan theme.

The New World Development and Urban Renewal Authority joint development offers a plethora of leisure and shopping spots at your feet in the form of the recently built, six-story K11 mall below.

The exclusive clubhouse offers plenty of indoor and outdoor facilities to ensure your work-life balance, and the sky garden is an urban oasis amid the hustle and bustle of city life.

With a Tsim Sha Tsui MTR exit just across the road from the building, the Masterpiece combines luxury, style and convenience in one of the most desirable addresses in town.

“Re-Enter The Dragon”: What Will Chinese Investment In Australia Do For The Arts?

After Failed Business Deals Earlier In The Year, Chinese Investment In Australia Is Back In A Big Way

Despite setbacks, Chinese-Australian business ties have deepened in the last few years

Despite setbacks, Chinese-Australian business ties have deepened in the last few years

The Australian reports this week that Australia remains a popular destination for Chinese investments, even after the ill-fated Chinalco-Rio Tinto negotiations earlier this year and China’s subsequent incarceration of Rio executive Stern Hu, an Australian national, along with three of his Chinese colleagues:

[T]he core complementary elements that have increasingly driven the economies together — Australia’s need for capital and for markets, China’s need for inputs for its industrial machine, and for international enmeshment — have not changed.

Paul Glasson, Shanghai-based managing director of Sigiriya Capital, a leading figure in putting together deals between Chinese and Australian companies, says: “The core proposition between Australia and China remains the same. The bottom line demand and desire to supply resources has not changed.”

This became palpable when Resources Minister Martin Ferguson flew to Beijing to initial on August 18 the deal through which state-owned giant PetroChina agreed to buy $50bn worth of gas from the Gorgon field off Western Australia.

With scant notice, he secured a brief but crucial meeting with the central player in China’s zou chu qu — go global — campaign, the chairman of the immensely powerful National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), Zhang Ping.

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Abu Dhabi Courting Chinese Businesses, Tourists

Abu Dhabi Making Chinese Business Travelers, Tourists Key Priority Following Reports That UAE Will Be Given Approved Destination Status

Relations between China and Abu Dhabi have improved greatly in the last decade, benefitting businesses (and soon, tourists)

Relations between China and Abu Dhabi have improved greatly in the last decade, benefitting businesses (and soon, tourists)

News that ties between China and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are deepening are not new, but until now the seven emirates have not been a major destination for Chinese tourists or business travelers. Although this has changed in recent years, at least on the business side — as Dubai and Abu Dhabi in particular have drawn thousands of these travelers as commercial __ have deepened — Chinese tourists have had a difficult time procuring visas.

That may change now, according to reports that the UAE will soon be appointed as an approved destination by the Chinese government. This should open new doors for waves of Chinese tour groups to head westward, and Abu Dhabi’s tourism department will, undoubtedly, be waiting for these free-spending groups with open arms. Already the Abu Dhabi authorities have begun to promote the emirate in China:

The Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority, a participant of the two-day China Incentive, Business Travel & Meetings Exhibition, that ended in Beijing on Thursday, will establish dedicated MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions) divisions in its three offices established over a year ago in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. Abu Dhabi will also appear at the China International Travel Mart in November in Kunming.

“China is going to play a significant role in Abu Dhabi, reaching its goal of attracting 2.3 million hotel guests by 2012’s end,” says Dayne Lim, product development director of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority. “As China is also now a leading world manufacturing powerhouse we will also be looking to increase awareness of Abu Dhabi as a business tourism destination.”

China Rolls The Dice On An American Casino

China State Construction Engineering Corp. Signs $1.7 Billion Agreement With Tishman And Casino Builder Revel Entertainment To Complete Atlantic City Casino

Photo: AP

Photo: AP reports today that one of the big investment trends of the last decade — western (primarily American) investors pumping money into places like Macau to develop sprawling casinos — has been turned on its head, as China State Construction Engineering Corp. (CSCEC), China’s biggest property company, has just signed a $1.7 billion deal with Tishman and Revel to complete a new casino in Atlantic City by July 2011. This investment may be unusual, but it is both a welcome injection of cash into a delayed project as well as a possible sign of more Chinese-American cooperative deals and construction projects to come. These construction agreements are extremely common in China — as we reported yesterday — but to date have been largely nonexistent in America.

CSCEC has been on a bit of a roll lately, having benefitted greatly from China’s massive stimulus spending, and will provide the much-needed funding that this project needs to finally get moving again — construction had been halted in the wake of the global financial crisis. As notes, CSCEC

reported a net profit of 2.35 billion yuan ($344 million) for the first half of 2009 on 111.3 billion yuan ($16.3 billion) in revenue.

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