Wed, May 23, 2012 - Page 12 News List

Cathay Life buys Prince Motors land

By Crystal Hsu  /  Staff reporter

Cathay Life Insurance Co (國泰人壽) yesterday bought debt-ridden Prince Motors Group’s (太子汽車) New Taipei City (新北市) plant through an auction for NT$4.39 billion (US$148.31 million), which was 7.7 percent higher than the floor price, auction organizer Taiwan Financial Asset Service Corp (台灣金服) said.

The Tucheng-based (土城) plant, which occupies land totaling 12,000 ping (396,000m2) near the planned Dingpu (頂埔) MRT station, translates into NT$365,000 per ping and marks the largest real-estate investment by a domestic life insurer this year, said Michael Wang (王維宏), an account manager at Sinyi Realty Inc’s (信義房屋) asset department.

The insurance company is seeking to increase real-estate investments, but has made slow progress amid an increasingly scarce supply, he said.

Cathay Life issued a statement yesterday evening saying it would not turn the newly acquired property into a residential complex, but would use it as a storage facility.

The 37-year-old plant failed to draw any bidders in an auction last month because of its over-valued asking price of NT$5.45 billion, or NT$450,000 per ping for the land alone, said Jessica Hsu (徐佳馨), head researcher at H&B Realty (住商不動產), Taiwan’s largest real-estate broker by number of franchises.

Going rates for industrial land plots average between NT$200,000 and NT$250,000 per ping in the area, according to H&B estimates.

Cathay Life was the only participant in yesterday’s auction and the successful sale could help ease Prince Motors’ debts to local lenders, notably Cosmos Bank (萬泰銀行).

Prince Motors chairman Hsu Sheng-fa (許勝發) is also the founder and former chairman of Cosmos Bank, but he relinquished control after selling a combined 80 percent stake in 2007. Cosmos Bank, which has about NT$5.6 billion in secured lending to the car vendor, was the only bank among 37 domestic peers with a loan ratio above the 2 percent level as of last month, and is looking to recover partial losses through collateral auctions.

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