Chinese riddle unravelling over the lucky penthouse 88 in Sydney's The Residence

Huang Shannian, a Chinese billionaire, was foundation chairman of the Zhouji Group, which became one of the top 20 shipbuilders in the world.

But in 2009 the Zhoushan Jinhaiwan Shipyard Co Ltd executive was queried by the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection accused of constructing docks without National Development and Reform Commission approval.

Huang Shannian had been on the Huran Richest Chinese People 2008 list in 128th place, then in 2009, he ranked as the country's 88th-richest person, at 8,000,000,000 yuan in fortune. That was around A$3.5 billion.

But within a month of the list's 2009 publication, Huang Shannian, born October 1962, disappeared from public view.

Perhaps until now.

Last month Sydney's mystery purchaser of the $17 million penthouse in the Residence apartment complex over looking Hyde Park emerged as a Huang Shannian.

And Title Tattle can't but tempt the irresistible conclusion that they are the same tycoon, especially as the Sydney Huang Shannian directed an ASIC registered company, Zhouji Investments (Australia) Pty Ltd which was established in 2005.

He too was born in October 1962.

Title Tattle notes he has owned an apartment in Meriton's World Square since paying $1.3 million in 2006, with Min Lu, who was born in Zhejaing China.

Lu directs a series of companies under the Austino name which have invested at least $45 million in shopping centres, residential projects and offices. Min Lu and Zhou Ji Pty Ltd are behind the Austino property development group in Sydney.

But would such a high ranking Chinese tycoon really take a Westpac mortgage on the $17 million apartment?

The Sydney Huang Shannian did so, signing his name in Chinese (see below) with Jimmy Siu as his eligible witness. His lawyer was Derek Xu in the stamped signed paperwork showing the $1,130,000 stamp duty.

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And did he really operate initially out of a West Pennant Hills house on Mungarra Place when he first came from China? Title Tattle expects the answers will come from the cn internet chatrooms.

What makes Title Tattle really want to believe they are one and the same is the apartment was expressly marketed as number 88.

That's a lucky number hopefully even for Huang Shannian who in buying the penthouse would have bounced back quite nicely from the loss of his 88th place Huran rich list status.

 

For a while in 2011  there was premature speculation that Judith Neilson, the founder of the White Rabbit Collection, one of the world's most significant collections of Chinese contemporary art, had bought the penthouse. But it was not to happen.

Title Tattle wrote the sale of the penthouse of The Residence had become akin to pulling a rabbit out of a hat. The initial premature Australian Financial Reveiw September 2011 sale report even suggesting a very bullish $25 million.

Back then Title Tattle envisaged any sale price as more likely to be somewhere around $18 million for the 810-square-metre two-level penthouse – known as apartment 88 at 18 College Street.  

The initial $25 million expectations purely came from when the penthouse was marketed to offshore Chinese buyers who the Australian developers hoped would pay a premium for the lucky number. 

There's no doubt the Hyde Park precinct, on the green fringe of the central business district, ranks among Sydney's priciest addresses. This 24-level Scott Carver designed College Street building – the gutted former NSW Police headquarters – has 87 five-star apartments with views across Hyde Park, the Opera House, St Mary’s Cathedral and Sydney Harbour. 

The facilities include a gymnasium, all-weather lap pool, sauna, spa and steam room, a residents’ lounge with a fully equipped kitchen and barbecue area and a 24-hour concierge service.The development also features a lockable, humidity-controlled wine room that can store a 100-bottle wine cellar for each resident.

The $350 million CBD tower was developed by Parmada in a venture with AMP Capital Investors, Galileo Group and Cbus Property, with the the sales through CBRE, Savills, Christie's International, Laing Real Estate, and Pagdens. The $17 million  sale of the Sulman penthouse was brokered through Nigel Napoli at Savills Residential Projects, according to the only offiicial comment to emerge from the sales network.

The lesser three-bedroom Archibald penthouse (pictured bewlow) in The Residence apartment tower remains on the market through CBRE.

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The last remaining penthouse in the complex comes with 690 square metre space designed by Sydney-based architectural firm Scott Carver with attention paid to its environmental efficiency. It was pulled from recent auction.

 

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It's not the first time there's been unravelling knowledge about the status of high ranking Chinese buyers of Sydney property.

Back in 2008 a Wolseley Road, Point Piper property sold for $32.4 million property.

Set high on a hill, above a towering sandstone wall and overlooking Sydney Harbour with picture postcard-perfect views of the bridge, Craig-y-Mor, the Point Piper non-waterfront residence  purchase was made just in the name of Jiang Mei.

Quietly during 2009, the name of the Wei Zeng was subsequently added to the title.

By late 2009 the couple were seeking its demolition, to be replaced by a $5 million new home, so they were both named for the first time in my much anticipated end-of-year Sydney Morning Herald Title Deeds Christmas party column.

Soon after the Chinese internet chat rooms had drawn the stunning conclusion it was owned by a son of a former vice-president of China and his wife, Jiang noted for studying at the Beijing Dance Academy.

The proposed demolition hasn't taken place. But the buses of tourists from China seeking an insight into how the families of their leaders have made it in the outside world occasionally drive past. Title Tattle guesses College Street will soon be added to the itinerary.

news@propertyobserver.com.au

                        

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor is one of Australia's most respected property journalists, having been at the top of the game since the early 1980s. Jonathan co-founded the property industry website Property Observer and has written for national and international publications.

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