Johnny Ronan: surprise

A stockbroker gathering to drum up investors to buy shares in Johnny Ronan and Richard Barrett's stockmarket-listed China Real Estate Opportunities attracted a Dublin city centre crowd of 50 investors on Friday.

Those attending said that after so many had got burned on Irish property they had been surprised that the Davy Stockbrokers meeting had pulled in such a large crowd of potential investors in Shanghai property.

"It was a surprise they had such a good turnout. There are still people around who appear to still have money," said an observer.

Participants, who attended by invitation only, said that the presentation was the Irish stage of Creo's road tour to sell shares by tender. It was led by Creo managing director Richard David.

David said Creo had refinanced its prominent properties in China and proposed listing of the Singapore Stock Exchange.

Creo told the Davy clients that rental growth across its properties had increased "despite a tough operating environment" and that it had achieved savings through a "re-alignment" of its portfolio toward commercial property development.

It said it had refinanced the Treasury Building, in the Changning district in Shanghai, in December, with new lender CITIC Ka Wah replacing Credit Suisse on the project.

The total loan amount was $45m on the Treasury Building, while rents for offices at the building, after rising 24% in 2008, had stood still last year.

It planned to refinance its city centre property, in Hongqiao in Shanghai, by October this year and had shortlisted two lenders. Total lending on the project amounted to $460m, it said.

Creo said that the "consensus forecast" was the Chinese economy would grow this year as exports and investments continued into the country. It said that retail demand in China remained strong but that "significant supply" in the office market was expected this year.

It told potential investors that it had achieved rent increases across most of its projects last year. City centre attracted occupancy rates of 77% and 98% for its office and retail space, compared with rates of 92% and 99% in 2008.

Rents at Central Plaza in Shanghai had risen in 2009 despite a drop due in retail occupancy rates due to refurbishment.

Its property valuations had risen to over £705m at the end of last year from £657.7m in June 2009