Chinese property developer Soho China, funded in 1995 by the husband and wife team of Pan Shiyi and Zhang Xin (seen here)and initially focussed almost totally on Beijing.
Now, Soho, known for its trendy architecture and its billionaire founders, is setting its sights on Shanghai. Rather than the city’s Pudong district, where the city’s financial hub is located and a frenzy of building is under way ahead of the city’s Expo 2010, Soho is looking to the historic western side of town for profits.
Soho China said in mid-August it would spend $360 million to buy an office tower in Shanghai from Morgan Stanley. The building will be refitted and the name will be changed to The Exchange—Soho from Dong Hai Tower.
Soho expects China’s property market to outperform the rest of the world, Chairman Pan Shiyi told Forbes in an interview. ”The whole world economy isn’t good right now, but China’s economy is different from the U.S. and Europe . . . and we think Shanghai’s market still looks promising.”
The couple’s stake in Soho China is worth about $1.7 billion.
Forbes reports Soho has been talking about entering the Shanghai market since 2008 when prices started coming down amid the global recession and took advantage of pressure in the market among foreign investors looking to sell. Shanghai will become the focal point of China, if not Asia, in 2010 with its hosting of the World Expo, which is expected to attract 70 million visitors.