Chinese tax agency investigating high-profile developer

Business News

BEIJING (AP) — The Chinese government said Friday it is investigating possible tax evasion by a subsidiary of high-profile real estate developer SOHO China Ltd., the target of an aborted takeover attempt this year by Blackstone Group.

The announcement comes amid a flurry of anti-monopoly and other enforcement actions against internet and other private companies as the ruling Communist Party tightens control over the economy.

The Beijing Municipal Taxation Bureau said in a one-sentence statement that the investigation was prompted by a report of possible tax evasion by Beijing Jianhua Land Co. It gave no details.

The usually secretive Chinese government has increasingly announced investigations of companies and prominent individuals without waiting for the outcome as it steps up enforcement of tax and other laws and pressures entrepreneurs to align their activities with the ruling party’s development plans.

Blackstone dropped a $3 billion bid in September to buy most of SOHO China, which is known for its futuristic-looking office buildings and shopping malls in Beijing and Shanghai. Blackstone cited “lack of sufficient progress” by Chinese regulators in reviewing the deal announced in June.

SOHO China, founded in 1995, is controlled by Zhang Xin, one of China’s best-known businesswomen, and her husband, Pan Shiyi.

The company says it has built 54 million square feet (5 million square meters) of projects.

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