Case | HBS Case Collection | June 2011 (Revised June 2013)

Sino-Ocean Land: Responding to Change

by Nicolas P. Retsinas, Jeffrey Hu and Runjiao Xu


In 2010, Sino-Ocean Land Holdings Limited was a highly successful, large real estate developer based in Beijing, China. Sino-Ocean Land had three main business segments—property development, property investment/management, and other real estate related businesses. From 2005-2009, the company focused on becoming a leading regional developer with a multiproduct offering. That strategy was successful, riding the wave of spectacular growth in the Chinese real estate sector from 1998-2008, following a loosening of Chinese state real estate regulations. Although Sino-Ocean Land had gone public in 2007, its key shareholders were still state owned enterprises. The state maintained significant influence on the company and the real estate market, in general. The case explores the interactions between the company and the state, examining land acquisition, financing, and corporate governance. Following the global financial crisis of 2008, Sino-Ocean Land must devise a new five year strategic plan. CEO Li Ming must grapple with the changing market dynamics and regulatory environment to decide the best course for the company. Key issues that he must determine are: whether the focus should be local or national; whether to continue with multiproduct offerings, or specialize in one product type; and whether to continue to pursue primarily development, or to shift to property investment and holding.

Keywords: Organizational Change and Adaptation; Strategic Planning; Diversification; Property; Policy; State Ownership; Business Strategy; Business and Government Relations; Real Estate Industry; Beijing;


Retsinas, Nicolas P., Jeffrey Hu, and Runjiao Xu. "Sino-Ocean Land: Responding to Change." Harvard Business School Case 211-107, June 2011. (Revised June 2013.)