Li Ka-Shing sells Hong Kong tower for record $5.2 billion

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Published: November 2, 2017 1:51:26 PM

Li Ka-Shing’s CK Asset Holdings Ltd. agreed to sell its stake in The Center for HK$40.2 billion ($5.2 billion), setting a record for a Hong Kong office tower and showing that the city’s commercial property market remains red hot.

Li Ka-Shing, Hong Kong tower, CK Asset, Morgan Stanley, Cheung Kong Center , CK Asset properties, China Energy Reserve and Chemicals GroupCK Asset shares rose as much as 4.6 percent, the biggest intraday gain since July last year. (Reuters)

Li Ka-Shing’s CK Asset Holdings Ltd. agreed to sell its stake in The Center for HK$40.2 billion ($5.2 billion), setting a record for a Hong Kong office tower and showing that the city’s commercial property market remains red hot. CK Asset’s gain will be about HK$14.5 billion, the company told Hong Kong’s stock exchange late Wednesday. State-owned China Energy Reserve and Chemicals Group owns 55 percent of the purchaser, with Hong Kong individuals accounting for the rest, local media reported.

The deal bodes well for the potential sale of the Langham Place Office Tower in Mongkok by Champion REIT, Morgan Stanley said. A mainland Chinese company, LVGEM (China) Real Estate Investment Co., last month announced the HK$9 billion purchase of a building from Wheelock & Co. Earlier this year, Henderson Land Development Co. paid HK$23.3 billion for the first commercial land sold by the government in the Central district in more than 20 years.

“Demand from mainlanders remains strong and capital controls may not be as strict as many investors think,” Raymond Cheng, director of Hong Kong and China property research at CIMB Securities, wrote in a note. “We expect this transaction to set a benchmark for future office transactions, especially in Central.”

CK Asset shares rose as much as 4.6 percent, the biggest intraday gain since July last year. They were up 2.9 percent as of 10:40 a.m. local time. The sale proceeds may go into share buybacks, special dividends or investments in high-yielding non-property assets, Cheng said.CK Asset, which changed its name from CK Property, is diversifying away from its main real-estate business. CK Asset and affiliate CK Infrastructure Holdings Ltd. earlier this year agreed to buy a German maker of smart meters for about 4.5 billion euros ($5.3 billion), building on the company’s expansion in infrastructure and energy.

73-story Tower

CK Asset’s properties, which include the Cheung Kong Center and Hutchison House, spanned about 17 million square feet (1.6 million square meters) as of June, with more than 80 percent located in Hong Kong, according to the company. It owned 75 percent of the floor space in The Center, according to Morgan Stanley. The 73-story tower in the Central business district is the city’s fifth-tallest, according to the Skyscraper Center. Hong Kong’s skyscrapers command the highest rents in the world, according to a report from Knight Frank, which said rental costs are more than four times higher than in Singapore. Rental growth will continue to be robust on an influx of mainland Chinese tenants, Knight Frank said.

The deal suggests that September’s scrapped sale of the Excelsior hotel in Causeway Bay was an exception, rather than a sign of a cooling market. The purchaser of The Center, C.H.M.T. Peaceful Development Asia Property Ltd., is a British Virgin Islands special purpose vehicle set up for the acquisition.

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