Braving the Hong Kong real-estate implosion
Residential and commercial property manager Onewo will raise about $790 million in what will become Hong Kong’s biggest initial public offering.
A funding round last year valued the group at about $14 billion, per financial publication IFR. Two years ago, similar floats were commanding valuations of up to 27 times expected earnings.
Those were better times: a Hong Kong index for the sector has since dropped 72%.
Onewo will be valued at 17 times 2023 earnings according to IFR, roughly in line with the average of its peers.
A closer look reveals a big split between state-backed firms trading on up to 30 times, and private rivals like Country Garden’s unit, on 8 times.
China Vanke, the biggest private developer by market value in the People’s Republic, is braving both rocky stock markets and the implosion of the mainland real estate sector to spin off its services unit at a valuation of almost $8 billion. That’s well below an earlier price tag, but it is still asking a premium.
Last year Onewo made a gross margin of 16% overseeing residential properties for its parent, but 4% working for others. For commercial properties, the margins were 20% and 12% respectively.
It attributes the gap to Vanke’s $28 billion brand equity, and the set-up costs for new third-party work. Unless Vanke goes on a building tear again, it’s hard to see Onewo maintaining anything like its recent 28% net profit growth.
Parent Vanke will take some comfort however from other recent listings in Hong Kong.
Duty-free operator China Tourism Group raised $2.1 billion last month, and its shares have risen 13% since, outpacing the wider market.
Even so, Onewo doesn’t seem to be making much concession to the tough conditions it faces. In soft markets, that’s a risky ask.