SUHJY - Sun Hung Kai Properties Limited

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+0.02 (+0.14%)
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Previous Close13.87
Bid0.00 x 0
Ask0.00 x 0
Day's Range13.89 - 13.96
52 Week Range11.40 - 17.84
Avg. Volume116,476
Market Cap39.832B
Beta (5Y Monthly)1.06
PE Ratio (TTM)6.33
Earnings DateN/A
Forward Dividend & Yield0.32 (2.32%)
Ex-Dividend DateMar 09, 2020
1y Target EstN/A
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    • Hong Kong's Teflon Home Prices Are Virus-Proof

      Hong Kong's Teflon Home Prices Are Virus-Proof

      (Bloomberg Opinion) -- Hong Kong’s home prices have proved resilient to months of protests and now the coronavirus epidemic, a one-two punch that the city’s finance chief likened over the weekend to “tsunami-like” shocks. While a hit is probably coming, the world’s least affordable housing market still looks a better place to be than in Hong Kong office or retail property.Home prices have dropped just 6.1% from their record high in June, as measured by the Centa-City Leading Index compiled by Centaline Property Agency. The index has risen for four weeks in a row through Feb. 9, the latest data, even as the virus shut down swathes of the Chinese economy, slowed Hong Kong tourist arrivals to a trickle and forced many of the city’s financial employees to work from home.A number of factors undergird the outlook for housing: the dominance of a small number of family-controlled companies that can influence supply; low interest rates; and limited leverage among home owners. Developers completed 14,000 units last year, 33% lower than 2018, according to Morgan Stanley analyst Praveen Choudhary. By contrast, 31,000 units were built in 2002, just before the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome. That was 35% more than the year before.  High equity levels mean there’s little pressure for home owners to sell, as I noted in November. The loan-to-value ratio for new mortgages dropped to 46% in September, from a peak of 69% in 2002, according to the Hong Kong Monetary Authority. Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s one-month interbank rate, against which most mortgages are priced, has fallen back below 2% this month.To be sure, a drastic worsening of the economy would change the calculation. Hong Kong’s unemployment rate is estimated to have climbed for a fourth month to 3.4% in January. That’s still far short of the 8.5% peak reached during SARS. Having risen more than fivefold from their 2003 low, Hong Kong housing prices have attained a Teflon-like response to bad news. That resilience is far less evident in commercial property, a sector that tends to move more in line with the state of the underlying economy. Once beloved by private equity firms for stable returns in a low-yield world, Hong Kong’s office and retail real estate is losing appeal as companies reduce space and shoppers desert malls.The total transaction value of office and retail properties slumped 12.9% last year to HK$49.6 billion ($6.4 billion), according to Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Patrick Wong. Grade-A offices recorded a 6% vacancy rate in December, the highest level since April 2010, when the number was the same, figures from real estate broker Jones Lang LaSalle Inc. show. Chinese companies, which have become increasingly important in the commercial property market, reduced their take-up of new office space by almost 40%. WeWork, the office-sharing company that scrapped its IPO last year, gave up some space.With Hong Kong’s gross domestic product shrinking 1.2% last year, empty workplaces became a common sight even before the coronavirus outbreak forced people to work from home. By the fourth quarter, office prices had reached the lowest since the second quarter of 2018, according to JLL.Retail landlords, meanwhile, started slashing rents by 60% this month for tenants that are trying to cope with the dearth of shoppers. The fourth-quarter vacancy rate of of 9% in core shopping areas was the highest in five years, JLL’s figures show. Average rents of prime street shops in the city fell 21% from a year earlier at the end of 2019, according to Bloomberg Intelligence.Tourism, particularly from mainland China, is far more important to Hong Kong’s economy than during SARS and has been hit hard by both the protests and the coronavirus. Preliminary visitor arrivals data for February from the Hong Kong Tourism Board show average daily traffic has plummeted almost 99% to fewer than 3,000 people.The retail sector was already facing a secular downturn. China has cut luxury taxes, reducing the incentive for mainland shoppers to buy in Hong Kong. Local consumption, barring panic-buying of toilet paper and face masks, is also suffering and will take time to recover.For real estate investors, the best place to shelter may be in cash-rich Hong Kong developers such as Sun Hung Kai Properties Ltd. and Li Ka-shing’s CK Asset Holdings Ltd. that have a higher exposure to housing. These look better placed to ride out the slump than rivals such as Wharf Real Estate Investment Co., owner of the Times Square mall in the prime Causeway Bay shopping district, or Hongkong Land Holdings Ltd., the biggest office landlord in the central business district.In a testing environment, homes can be a refuge in more ways than one. To contact the author of this story: Nisha Gopalan at ngopalan3@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Matthew Brooker at mbrooker1@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Nisha Gopalan is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering deals and banking. She previously worked for the Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones as an editor and a reporter.For more articles like this, please visit us at now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    • Reuters

      HK's Sun Hung Kai Properties cuts Feb rent by up to 50% for most retail tenants

      Some shopping mall landlords in Hong Kong, including Sun Hung Kai Properties, the city's largest property developer by value, are offering relief measures such as rental concession to their tenants during the coronavirus outbreak. Sun Hung Kai Properties, who owns major malls in some of the local districts that host international fashion brands ranging from Coach to Zara, said on Wednesday it would reduce February rent by 30-50% for most of its tenants, in an effort to stabilize economy and protect employment. For its chain and international brand tenants, it will launch relief measures after collecting their sales data.

    • Moody's

      Sun Hung Kai Properties (Capital Market) Ltd. -- Moody's: Sun Hung Kai Properties (Capital Market) Ltd.'s ratings unaffected by tap bond offering

      Moody's Investors Service says that the A1 ratings on Sun Hung Kai Properties (Capital Market) Limited's backed senior unsecured notes are unaffected by the planned tap bond offering on its existing USD500 million senior unsecured notes due 21 January 2030. The notes are unconditionally and irrevocably guaranteed by its parent, Sun Hung Kai Properties Limited (SHKP).

    • Moody's

      Sun Hung Kai Properties (Capital Market) Ltd. -- Moody's assigns A1 to Sun Hung Kai Properties' USD MTN drawdown

      Moody's Investors Service has assigned an A1 rating to the proposed USD senior unsecured notes due 2030 to be issued by Sun Hung Kai Properties (Capital Market) Ltd. under its USD7 billion Medium-Term Note Program, rated (P)A1. The notes will be unconditionally and irrevocably guaranteed by Sun Hung Kai Properties Limited (SHKP). "The A1 rating reflects SHKP's solid business and financial profile, which is supported by its strong recurring rental income, high financial flexibility, leadership position and long operating track record in the Hong Kong property market, as well as prudent financial management," says Stephanie Lau, a Moody's Vice President and Senior Analyst and the Lead Analyst for SHKP.

    • Moody's

      Sun Hung Kai Properties (Capital Market) Ltd. -- Moody's announces completion of a periodic review of ratings of Sun Hung Kai Properties Limited

      Moody's Investors Service ("Moody's") has completed a periodic review of the ratings of Sun Hung Kai Properties Limited and other ratings that are associated with the same analytical unit. The review was conducted through a portfolio review in which Moody's reassessed the appropriateness of the ratings in the context of the relevant principal methodology(ies), recent developments, and a comparison of the financial and operating profile to similarly rated peers. This publication does not announce a credit rating action and is not an indication of whether or not a credit rating action is likely in the near future.

    • Moody's

      Sun Hung Kai Properties (Capital Market) Ltd. -- Moody's affirms Sun Hung Kai Properties (Capital Market) Ltd.'s A1 ratings; outlook stable

      Moody's Investors Service has affirmed the A1 ratings on Sun Hung Kai Properties (Capital Market) Ltd.'s backed senior unsecured notes and the provisional (P)A1 backed senior unsecured rating for its multicurrency Medium-Term Note (MTN) program. Both its notes and MTN program are unconditionally and irrevocably guaranteed by its parent Sun Hung Kai Properties Limited (SHKP). The rating action follows SHKP's announcement on 27 November 2019 that its wholly owned subsidiaries Century Opal and Max Century have acquired a commercial land plot located in West Kowloon for HKD42.2 billion.

    • Hong Kong's October stamp duty income jumps as non-resident property buyers pile in to pick up bargains amid oversupply
      South China Morning Post

      Hong Kong's October stamp duty income jumps as non-resident property buyers pile in to pick up bargains amid oversupply

      Individual and corporate homebuyers piled into Hong Kong property last month to pick up bargains as city developers offered the most number of units for sale in several months after a surprise relaxation of mortgage entitlements for first-home buyers.Buyers' stamp duty, a 15 per cent surcharge on the price of a property that must be borne by non-permanent Hong Kong residents and corporate buyers, soared 2.8 times last month to HK$880 million (US$112.4 million), while the number of transactions jumped 1.8 times to 296, according to data by the Inland Revenue Department.October was one of the more active months for property sales, after Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor on October 16 announced an unexpected increase in loan entitlements for homebuyers. At least 1,356 units were offered for sale last month, including Sun Hung Kai Properties' Cullinan West III in Nam Cheong, CK Asset's Seaside Sonata in Sham Shui Po and the Upper Riverbank project in Kai Tak by Longfor Group and KWG Group."Market sentiment [last month] was a little better than before," said Ricacorp Properties' head of research Derek Chan, adding that "it is possible" that the popularity of Cullinan West III among mainland Chinese buyers "drove the sharp rise" in transactions and stamp duties. "The previous base was too low so the increase would be more significant with more interest from mainland buyers."The amount of double stamp duty, an extra 15 per cent surcharge that must be paid by buyers who already own a home in Hong Kong, tripled to a five-month high of HK$1.18 billion, while the number of transactions rose to 481.The data shows how investment capital continues to pour into Hong Kong, even as the city's economy was driven into its first technical recession in more than a decade by six months of anti-government protests and the worst political crisis in history.Cullinan West III (left), Cullinan West I and Cullinan West II (right) bult by Sun Hung Kai Properties in Sham Shui Po. Photo: Wikipedia alt=Cullinan West III (left), Cullinan West I and Cullinan West II (right) bult by Sun Hung Kai Properties in Sham Shui Po. Photo: WikipediaBuyers from mainland China led the rush, owing to their interest to find a store of value for "funds that need a way out," said Chan. "Not all mainland buyers are pessimistic about [the Hong Kong] market outlook. Hong Kong's market is attractive and some buyers are more forward-looking."Signs of mainland Chinese buyers abound. Seven of them forked out a combined HK$670 million for 24 apartments at Cullinan West III in September through nominee companies, according to records at the Land Registry and Companies Registry. Their stamp duties were estimated at about HK$200 million.SHKP, which offered its Cullinan West III at discounts, sold 58 per cent of the 235 units on offer on October 17, while CK Asset sold half of its 218 Seaside Sonata flats on the same day, pricing them 10 per cent lower than comparable projects in the neighbourhood.CK Asset's Seaside Sonata development on Hai Tan Street, Sham Shui Po on 31 July 2019. Photo: Tory Ho alt=CK Asset's Seaside Sonata development on Hai Tan Street, Sham Shui Po on 31 July 2019. Photo: Tory HoBut the spurt in buying interest after the relaxation of mortgage entitlements was short-lived, with property transactions dwindling last week, as anti-government protests enter their sixth month.Only 21 flats found buyers in the week ended Sunday, a drop of 58 per cent from the previous week and the third week of declines, according to Hong Kong Property (Services), which tracks 20 major lived-in estates. This compares to 68 in the week ended October 20."New projects have diverted purchasing power while owners are raising asking prices seeing a better market," said Louis Chan, vice-chairman for Asia-Pacific and chief executive of residential division at Centaline Property Agency. "Also, traffic in some areas were affected by the social movement this weekend, which caused turnover to plunge."Sammy Po, chief executive of the residential division at Midland Realty, noted that transactions fell in that owners who raised asking prices tend to keep prices firm and are reluctant to offer discounts."Bargains had been snapped up already and supply of good listings is not replenished yet," added Po.This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP's Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2019 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved. Copyright (c) 2019. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

    • Reuters

      UPDATE 8-Jeers force Hong Kong leader to abandon address with no olive branch on offer

      Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam had to abandon her policy speech because of jeering lawmakers on Wednesday but later offered no direct olive branch to pro-democracy protesters, hoping instead to ease resentment by building more public housing. Lam, who had to broadcast the annual address via a video link after the rowdy scenes in the Legislative Council, had hoped to try to restore confidence in her administration after four months of often violent anti-government and anti-China protests. Protesters have trashed government buildings, including the Legislative Council, daubed businesses seen as pro-China with graffiti, set street fires and thrown petrol bombs at police who have responded with water canon, tear gas, rubber bullets and several live rounds.

    • Reuters

      UPDATE 4-Barricades up, shutters down as Hong Kong marks Communist China's birthday

      Hong Kong was in a state of unprecedented lockdown on Tuesday, with barricades in the city centre, shuttered stores and a heavy police presence, as authorities scrambled to ensure protests do not overshadow China's National Day celebrations in Beijing. The former British colony has been racked by nearly four months of street clashes and demonstrations, posing the gravest popular challenge to Chinese President Xi Jinping since he came to power.

    • Reuters

      UPDATE 1-Hong Kong's sky-high property prices prove resilient in face of protests

      While months of Hong Kong protests have scared away tourists, sent jitters across the financial centre and cast a dark cloud over the local economy, there's one thing residents of the city are confident they can bank on - sky-high property prices. Home prices in the former British colony have rocketed over 200% in the past decade, driven by limited housing supply and large capital flows from mainland Chinese buyers, angering many residents who can't afford to get on the property ladder. Lily Chow, a 32-year-old clerk, is among the lucky ones.

    • Sun Hung Kai's hotel, shopping mall businesses take a drubbing as tourist numbers plunge amid Hong Kong protests
      South China Morning Post

      Sun Hung Kai's hotel, shopping mall businesses take a drubbing as tourist numbers plunge amid Hong Kong protests

      Sun Hung Kai Properties, the largest developer by value in the world's least affordable housing market, said its hotel and shopping centre businesses have been hit hard by the protests that are shaking Hong Kong to its core and deterring visitors.Occupancy rates at the company's hotels have plunged on average by 30 to 40 per cent, with some hotels finding themselves just half full, said Raymond Kwok, chairman and managing director of the company."Fewer customers came when a lot of Western countries issued travel warnings so the hotel industry has been affected quite a lot," said Kwok.He was commenting on Thursday evening after revealing that the company's underlying profit jumped 6.6 per cent to HK$32.39 billion (US$4.14 billion) in the year to June 30. The protests that marked the start of Hong Kong's unprecedented political crisis started on June 9, so would have had a negligible impact on the figure.Hong Kong's tourism industry has suffered its worst downturn in more than a decade, with arrivals plunging almost 40 per cent in August from a year earlier.Market sentiment has been battered by massive street rallies that are now stretching into their 14th week.The demonstrations, initially against a now-abandoned extradition bill but now calling for broader democratic reform, have come on top of the protracted US-China trade war which had already drained appetite for property in Hong Kong. Hong Kong tourism suffers worst downturn since Sars outbreak in 2003Kwok, whose company is also the largest private shopping-centre owner in Hong Kong, said malls such as New Town Plaza had been affected. Those catering primarily to tourists or mainland visitors have been the hardest hit."Now is still late September. I hope tourist [numbers] will recover and they will come more," said Kwok. "In the first half of the year, sales at the shopping centres increased. Of course, it reduced in July and August."For New Town Plaza, it is most important to protect customers and the staff [during the protests]. It has been necessary to spend more on security expenses."On certain days, of course, if there are too many people protesting, we have to ask tenants to close to avoid affecting the safety of the tenants' staff. After it becomes peaceful, we plan to have more promotions."Raymond Kwok, chairman and managing director, Sun Hung Kai Properties, discusses the challenges as he reveals the developer's financial results on September 12. Photo: K. Y. Cheng alt=Raymond Kwok, chairman and managing director, Sun Hung Kai Properties, discusses the challenges as he reveals the developer's financial results on September 12. Photo: K. Y. ChengThe residential market is not faring much better.The gains in home prices seen in the first half of the year will be erased, said Victor Lui, deputy managing director of Sun Hung Kai Properties, who is responsible for residential sales."In the past few months, the housing market has slowed because of the US-China trade war and the social upheaval," said Lui. "Home prices at year-end will be more or less at the level of the beginning of the year." Outlook for Hong Kong retail rents bleak as trade war and protests dampen salesThe average price of used homes across Hong Kong fell 0.7 per cent from May to July, according to figures released by the Rating and Valuation Department. The Centa-City Leading Index slid 1.6 per cent from the end of July to September 1.Kwok said he "worried" about the violence sparked by the political crisis, particularly conflicts between families members and friends as well as between Hongkongers and mainlanders.Taking into account a revaluation gain on investment properties of HK$12.86 billion, Sun Hung Kai Properties' net profit amounted to HK$44.91 billion.Revenue eased 0.4 per cent to HK$85.30 billion.The final dividend proposed was HK$3.7, up 7.2 per cent from a year ago.Ahead of the results announcement, Sun Hung Kai Properties' share price dipped 0.8 per cent to close at HK$116.9 on Thursday.This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP's Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2019 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved. Copyright (c) 2019. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

    • Developers' cosy ties with politics may explain Hong Kong's biggest woe: widening income gap in the least affordable city on earth
      South China Morning Post

      Developers' cosy ties with politics may explain Hong Kong's biggest woe: widening income gap in the least affordable city on earth

      On a sunny morning in early September 2010, Hong Kong's wealthiest man Li Ka-shing was invited to speak in Shenzhen and was granted an exclusive audience with then Chinese President Hu Jintao.What was unusual about the episode, held during a commemoration of Shenzhen's 30th anniversary as the special economic zone to spearhead China's economic reforms, was that Li was the sole Hongkonger to be received by China's head of state. He was also the only Hong Kong businessman to speak at Shenzhen's birthday party, sharing the limelight with three hometown captains of industry: BYD's Chairman Wang Chuanfu, China Merchant Holdings' Chairman Fu Yuning and Tencent Holdings' founder Pony Ma Huateng.The episode, a capstone of Li's corporate career, illustrates his apex position where Hong Kong's business intersects with politics, a status that won him the "Superman" sobriquet for his wheeling-dealing prowess. It also underscores the cosiness between Hong Kong's tycoons and government " both locally and extending to Beijing " a nexus blamed by many of the city's street protesters today as the major cause of their woes: one of the developed world's widest income gaps in the least affordable housing market on earth.As Hong Kong's unprecedented outbursts of civic unrest enter their 14th week, the link between business and politics " and its implication for the daily lives of the city's 7.5 million residents " is coming under increasing scrutiny, while activists, policymakers and academics alike seek to explain the anger that seethes under one of Asia's most prosperous urban centres.Chinese President Hu Jintao during an exclusive meeting with Cheung Kong Holdings Limited's chairman Li Ka-shing on September 6, 2010 during the 30th anniversary commemoration of Shenzhen as a special economic zone. Photo: XinhuaThe roots of Hong Kong's entangled ties between business and politics can be traced to the city's colonial history, when hometown business elites were also local community leaders, endorsed and endowed by administrators with influence and leadership roles.In the city's first post-colonial administration after 1997, businessmen made up eight of the 11 non-official members of Tung Chee-hwa's cabinet. The ratio was little changed at 70 per cent under Tung's successor Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, falling to half during Leung Chun-ying's term from 2012 to 2017.Chinese President Jiang Zemin (right) during a meeting with the late Henry Fok Ying-tung (left) in Beijing on June 23, 2000. Photo: SCMPThe ties between business and politics extend all the way to Beijing.When Chinese officials took over Hong Kong from the British colonial government in 1997, they kept wooing the city's biggest hongs, banks and conglomerates to show that the 'one country, two systems' formula of a capitalist market economy within China's socialism could work, said Lau Siu-kai, vice-president of The Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macau Studies, a semi-official think tank."Beijing assured them the safety of their investments, and allowed them bigger political influence to stabilise the [environment to increase investors' confidence]," Lau said. Hong Kong mulls over emergency law to quell protestsThe Chinese government saw the need to engage Hong Kong's elites in the country's political process during the 1980s, inviting the first batch of Hongkongers to become delegates to the sixth Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).Among the 44 delegates serving from 1983 until 1988 were Hopewell Holdings' founder Gordon Wu Ying-sheung, and the late Henry Fok Ying-tung. Fok was Forbes' seventh wealthiest man of Hong Kong when he died in 2006, with businesses that spanned real estate, restaurants, and a stake in Macau's biggest casinos.Three generations of Fok men sat on the Chinese legislature's advisory body. Fok himself had a seat in the legislature, the National People's Congress, and was a member of the drafting committee for Hong Kong's Basic Law, as the city's mini constitution is known. His eldest son Timothy Fok Tsun-ting was a delegate in the 11th and 12th CPPCC from 2008 to 2018, while eldest grandson Kenneth Fok Kai-kong is a delegate in the current 13th CPPCC that serves from 2018 to 2023."Beijing issued strict guidelines about the meeting in recent years, but enforcement began this year," said CPPCC delegate Christopher Cheung Wah-fung, a lawmaker representing Hong Kong's financial services industry. "We are required to arrive before meetings start and are not allowed to leave during the proceedings. Any delegate who could not attend has to explain his or her absence. We are expected to attend even the lunches and dinners during the conference period."As the ranks of Hongkongers grew over the years in the CPPCC, tripling to 156 in the current term, so did the representation of tycoons and business elites. Ten of the current delegates hail from the city's wealthiest families on Forbes' Hong Kong Richest 2019 list. Is China using protests to chip away at Hong Kong's economic freedoms?There's Victor Li Tzar-kuoi, the elder of "Superman" Li's two sons and the chairman of CK Hutchison and CK Asset Holdings. Peter Lee Ka-kit, co-chairman of Henderson Land Development and the elder son of Hong Kong's second-richest man Lee Shau-kee, is also a delegate. And there's Raymond Kwok Ping-luen, chairman of the city's most-capitalised developer Sun Hung Kai Properties (SHKP), the youngest of three brothers with a combined wealth estimated at US$40 billion in 2017.To be sure, tycoons are not exactly the class enemy in China's legislature, which has 104 dollar billionaires sitting in the 2019 legislature according to Hurun Report, with their combined wealth estimated at 3.4 trillion yuan (US$504 billion). By comparison, the 50 richest members of the US Congress were worth a combined US$2 billion in 2016.Victor Li Tzar-kuoi, then the deputy chairman of Cheung Kong (Holdings) Limited and Peter Lee Ka-kit, vice-chairman of Henderson Land Development, at a meeting of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) in Beijing on 3 March 2013. Photo: Simon Song.A consequence of the growing influence of billionaires is the widening income gap in Hong Kong and a further concentration of wealth in the hands of the few, said Lau.The fortunes of Hong Kong's 75 wealthiest billionaires " estimated at US$224 billion in 2013 " made up nearly 82 per cent of the city's gross domestic product, according to Wealth-X's Billionaire Census. By last year, the tycoon class had ballooned to 93 with US$315 billion in assets, or 86.6 per cent of the city's GDP, the census showed.The remainder of Hong Kong's population became poorer, with a record 1.37 million residents living below the poverty line last year, eking out a living on as little as HK$4,000 (US$510) a month, according to government data.The growing ranks of billionaires in Hong Kong's CPPCC delegation underscore their outsize influence in the city's economy.Nearly 45 per cent of all residential property sold in Hong Kong are built by the city's five biggest developers: CK Assets of the Li family, SHKP of the Kwoks, Henderson Land of the Lee family, New World Development of the Chengs and Sino Land of the Ng family.Three of Hong Kong's four mobile phone network operators are also subsidiaries of the developers: Hutchison Telecommunications is a unit of CK Hutchison, chaired by Victor Li, while Hong Kong Telecommunications (HKT) is a unit of PCCW, chaired by his younger brother Richard Li Tzar-kai. SmarTone Mobile Communications is owned by SHKP. Prices of lived-in homes drop for second month amid protests, trade warThe concentration of wealth and political power has not gone unnoticed, or been without controversies, deepening the schism between the haves and the have-nots in Hong Kong.They include the HK$13 billion Cyberport project initiated by Hong Kong's first Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa, conceived in the wake of the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis to develop information and communications technology in Hong Kong.Built on 26 hectares of land in Pok Fu Lam on the south side of Hong Kong Island, the project comprised four office towers and a five-star hotel that took up two-thirds of the land area, while the remaining one third yielded 4.39 million square feet of oceanfront residential real estate.The entire project was awarded in 1999 to Richard Li's Pacific Century Group without an open tender.Another controversy was the 40-hectare West Kowloon Cultural District that was awarded in 2005 to a single developer out of three competing bids. Even though the HK$40 billion project was conceived after a 1996 tourism survey that lamented Hong Kong's dearth of cultural venues, it was criticised as a real estate development in disguise.Smaller, cash-poor developers were particularly unhappy at being shut out by the hefty price tag, with casino tycoon Stanley Ho's family-controlled Shun Tak Holdings openly criticising the single-developer approach. Ho was president of the Real Estate Developer's Association (Reda), the powerful lobby group of the city's developers.Hong Kong's government, which earns about 30 per cent of its annual fiscal revenue from selling land, tightened supply during the administration of Donald Tsang, the city's second Chief Executive, who took over after his predecessor Tung resigned in 2005.The career civil servant " he coined the phrase "caring capitalism" while he was the city's Financial Secretary in 1996 " suspended the construction and sale of Home Ownership Scheme flats to arrest an unprecedented decline in real estate prices, and replaced land auctions with a closed tender system.Donald Tsang Yam-kuen leaves the Court of Final Appeal in Central after his final appeal on 14 May 2019. The former Chief Executive, who was found guilty in 2017 of misconduct, had his conviction quashed on June 26, 2019. Photo: SCMP/Winson WongThe result of the policies was a 57 per cent plunge in the city's annual housing supply from 59,800 units in 2006 to 25,700 homes by 2016, comprising private, subsidised and public rental apartments. The shortage caused home prices to soar over a decade, laying the ground for a property bull run that continued until the end of 2018.As home prices soared, affordability went out the window for many first-home buyers, so developers began building ever-smaller abodes " they require smaller down payments " for young families.At the depth of the 1998 Asian Financial Crisis, HK$3 million (US$382,400) fetched a flat measuring 686 square feet (64 square metres) on average, according to Midland Realty. Two decades later in 2018, the living space had shrank to 200 sq ft for the same price, while rents have soared 200 per cent.The smallest flat currently available for sale in Hong Kong costs HK$1.73 million for 128 sq ft, smaller than a standard car parking space or a prison cell, while the smallest flat for lease measures 61 sq ft, for HK$10,000 per month.Dismal living conditions and a yawning income gap have led to a groundswell of simmering anger, akin to a tinderbox awaiting a spark.What began on June 9 as a peaceful march by an estimated 1 million people to protest against a controversial extradition bill has since deteriorated into 12 weeks of frequent clashes between police and protesters.Many of Hong Kong's street protesters may have been driven by "poor living conditions" amid the city's "excessive wealth concentration," said the former CPPCC delegate and Hopewell founder Wu. "People ask why our incomes go to the government and the people who own land," said Wu, the 43rd-richest man in Hong Kong, according to Forbes.The concentration of wealth and influence is also creating an uneven playing field for Hong Kong's mid-size developers, forcing them to look elsewhere for growth as they are squeezed out by cash-rich rivals."Hong Kong land is too expensive," said Chris Hoong, managing director of Far East Consortium, a minnow with HK$8.4 billion in value, a 10th of the average capitalisation among Hong Kong's bigger publicly traded developers.For small businesses, and even large professional firms and luxury retailers, high rents put the squeeze on earnings, making landlords and developers the ultimate winners, said Joe Chau Kwok-ming, president of 3,200-member Hong Kong General Chamber of Small & Medium Business.Expensive housing costs also spill over into higher salaries for the workforce. Rents make up a third of the total costs of Hong Kong's small enterprises, which account for 98 per cent of the city's commercial life, while wages make up another one third, Chau said.The cosiness between Hong Kong's business elites and Chinese politics has shifted subtly since Xi Jinping ascended to China's highest office in 2012.Former presidents Hu and Jiang Zemin " and also former vice-president Zeng Qinghong " used CK Asset's Harbour Grand Hotel in Hung Hom as their temporary residence during their Hong Kong visits. Li and his sons would join Jiang for breakfast.Those private meetings have ceased since Xi came to power. China's leaders nowadays were holding fewer meetings with Hong Kong tycoons when they visited the city to avoid potential criticism that they were focusing only on rich people, analysts said. Sino Land chairman urges end to protests hurting city's economyNot long after a 2015 military parade in Beijing to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the second world war - attended by Li's two sons but not the elder Li - the family undertook a sweeping reorganisation of its business empire to pave the way for the patriarch's retirement three years later.The family diversified its sprawling businesses, which touch virtually every aspect of a Hongkonger's daily life from CK Asset's property to two of the city's four mobile phone networks to shopping at AS Watsons retail shops or Park'N'Shop supermarkets, and oil and imported containers handled by CK Hutchison's ports.Europe now contributes 55 per cent to CK Hutchison's first-half earnings, while Hong Kong makes up a mere 3 per cent, and mainland China accounts for 10 per cent.Change had also been afoot in Hong Kong. The incumbent Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, who unleashed the worst political crisis in Hong Kong's history with her controversial extradition bill, appointed the fewest businessmen to her cabinet in two decades, with just seven of 16 non-official members, or 43 per cent, from the corporate sector.Still, the question amid all the unprecedented public unrest is how Beijing or the city government can ease the tension, bridge the social divide and narrow wealth disparity when conflicts had been deepened."Have you seen any proposal by any of the tycoons [on the CPPCC delegation] to eliminate the conflicts between Hong Kong and mainland China?" asked Chung Kim-wah, an assistant professor at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University's Department of Applied Social Sciences. "Have you seen them speak out before the issues got any worse?"Hong Kong's powerful property lobby issued two statements over two weeks last month to condemn the escalating violence in the street protests, urging the city to return to peace and rule of law.They included the biggest local developers SHKP, CK Asset, Henderson Land, New World Development, Sino Land and Swire Properties. Notably absent from the list was Chinese Estate, controlled by fugitive tycoon Joseph Lau Luen-hung, who earlier sought a legal challenge against Hong Kong's extradition bill, but eventually dropped it.The statements were "cookie-cutter" messages, an example of the token gesture to "echo Beijing's directive and thinking" instead of "leading any reflection on the issues at stake for Hong Kong," Chung said.Still, 13 weeks of street protests cannot untangle the Gordian knot of entrenched business interest and politics built over decades, which led Hong Kong to where it is, analysts said."This is not going to fade away, and it will always be like that," said Joseph Tsang, chairman of JLL Hong Kong, adding that the phenomenon of greater wealth disparity triggering social unrest "will not improve in short term" as the big players have firmly controlled the city's businesses.Additional reporting by Sandy Li, Martin Choi and Enoch YiuOther articles in this series have analysed Hong Kong's emergency law, whether protests will ruin the city's role in the Greater Bay Area plan, Taiwan's high stakes in the protests, how leaders have spurned the chance to listen to public opinion, and how Beijing keeps getting Hong Kong wrongThis article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP's Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2019 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved. Copyright (c) 2019. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.


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