Squeezed by trade war, Chinese co-working firm Atlas pivots to 'Greater Bay Area', offers rent-free periods to Hong Kong businesses

By Pearl Liu pearl.liu@scmp.com / https://www.scmp.com/business/article/3014064/squeezed-trade-war-chinese-co-working-firm-atlas-pivots-greater-bay-area?utm_medium=partner&utm_campaign=contentexchange&utm_source=EdgeProp | June 18, 2019 1:52 PM SGT
Guangzhou-based co-working space provider Atlas wants Hong Kong companies to set up shop in a three-storey facility it is opening in Shenzhen's Futian business district in July " and is offering a three-month rent-free periods as well as discounts to sweeten the deal.
Founded by Ron Chen Sze Long, the son of Chen Zhuo Lin, chairman of mainland Chinese property company Agile Property, Atlas is looking to offset a drop in leasing demand amid an escalating trade war between the United States and China.
"There are tenants being impacted, of course, but we see demand from other growing companies and alternative sources," Comely Zhai, the company's vice-president for southern China, said on Monday. "With the 'Greater Bay Area' initiative, we are expecting more Hong Kong and Macau companies to come and use co-working spaces at Atlas."
The company currently has 17 facilities, with six facilities in the Greater Bay Area, including three in Guangzhou, two in Shenzhen and one in Hong Kong. The new facility in Futian, which is linked to West Kowloon in Hong Kong by the high-speed rail link, will be spread across 6,000 square metres.
Co-working has grown rapidly in mainland China " in Guangzhou alone there were 51 facilities being offered by 11 companies by the end of 2018, according to real estate consultancy Knight Frank.
Ron Chen Sze Long, the founder of Atlas. Photo: Winson Wong
Atlas is offering rent-free periods at its centres in Guangzhou and Shenzhen as well. "Hong Kong is a new source of clients for Greater Bay Area co-working spaces amid fierce competition, " said David Ji, head of research and consultancy for Greater China at Knight Frank.
Hong Kong architectural design firm Prime Design Consultancy is among the more than 20 companies that have enjoyed rent-free periods at an Atlas co-working space in Guangzhou's Zhujiang New Town, dubbed Guangzhou's "Central" district...