Dragon’s den


Visitors to the Beijing Olympics were enthused by its impressive stadia like the Bird’s Nest and the Water Cube. But for many the more intriguing structure was the mysterious, neighbouring building called the Pangu Plaza.

The building is shaped like a dragon and though in the heart of Beijing, it stretches the length of seven football pitches. To veteran China watchers this eye-catching edifice – built by a tycoon and not by the government – broke a golden rule: never steal the Party’s thunder and especially not at the most important international event (the Olympiad) China has ever hosted. Indeed, Pangu’s owner Guo Wengui has been in exile since 2014 after the government accused him of bribery (see WiC363). His iconic headquarters was back in the headlines last week, as a local court put the confiscated building up for sale.

In a public bidding process conducted on Alibaba’s auction site, the property was available at a starting price of Rmb5.18 billion ($725 million). That looked attractive as it was almost 30% below its most recent valuation, Beijing News reported.

Nearly 150,000 internet users logged on to “witness” the auction although there weren’t nearly as many interested buyers. After a mere two extra bids were made, Pangu Plaza was sold at close to its opening price. The winner: BBMG, a state firm controlled by the Beijing local government.

The auction may not have generated much in the way of bidding excitement, but Beijing News said it still broke the record for the most expensive piece of real estate sold online in the country.

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