On September 7, Soho China, a commercial real estate developer listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, announced that Pan Shiyi has resigned as Chairman of the Board, the Chairman of the Nomination Committee and the Chairman of the ESG Committee of the Board while Zhang Xin resigned as CEO of Soho China. The document indicates that the couple will focus on supporting the arts and philanthropic pursuits.
The couple were the founders of Soho China and have decided to resign from their core positions together. The 27-year-old company is undergoing an important turning point. According to the announcement, both Pan Shiyi and Zhang Xin have confirmed that they have no differences with the board of directors, and that there are no matters related to resignation that need to be brought to the attention of shareholders of the company or the stock exchange. They will continue to serve as executive directors of Soho China.
At the same time, independent non-executive Director Huang Jingsheng was appointed as non-executive chairman of the Board, chairman of the Nomination Committee and chairman of the ESG Committee. Xu Jin and Qian Ting were appointed as executive directors and co-CEOs of Soho China.
Xu Jin joined the company in February 2001 and previously served as Vice President of Soho China, during which she was responsible for the asset and property management division. She has also served as Director of Human Resources Department, Director of Procurement Department and Vice President of the company. Qian Ting also served as the Vice President of the company before, responsible for property leasing and sales. He joined the company in October 2002 and served as the Director of Leasing Department and the Vice President of the company.
In 1995, Pan Shiyi and his wife Zhang Xin jointly founded Soho China before taking it public twelve years later in Hong Kong. The company focuses on the development of commercial real estate in the urban centers of Beijing and Shanghai while also acting as a holding company for real estate assets. At present, Soho China is the largest office building developer in Beijing and Shanghai, with a total development volume of 5 million square meters.
According to a report by Yicai, Soho China has cashed in about 30 billion yuan ($4.3 billion) by selling assets in the past few years. In addition, since 2006, the company has implemented dividends 12 times, and Pan Shiyi and Zhang Xin have accumulated dividends of about 13.3 billion yuan in cash.
Since 2012, the company has announced its business transformation, from a bulk sales mode to holding, and its main source of income has changed from selling buildings to collecting rent. Since then, however, Soho China’s operating income has continued to decline, from 18.215 billion yuan in 2012, to below 10 billion yuan in 2014, and then to only 1.742 billion yuan in 2021.
On September 1, Soho China released its interim results for 2022, showing that in the first half of this year, the company achieved an operating income of 896 million yuan, up 11.31% year-on-year, and the net profit attributable to the parent company was 191 million yuan, turning losses into profits year-on-year.
It is worth mentioning that in June 2019, Soho China announced that Blackstone, the U.S. private equity giant, had issued a comprehensive acquisition offer, and planned to invest $3 billion to acquire a controlling stake in Soho China. However, in September of the same year, Soho China announced that Blackstone had decided not to make an offer for the acquisition of the company’s equity in view of insufficient progress in meeting the prerequisites.