Saturday, November 28, 2015   

Deal not more interference in marketplace says Tsang

Erick Ko

Friday, November 05, 1999

FEARS in the wake of the Disneyland agreement that the SAR Government

is interfering more in the marketplace are unwarranted, Finance

Secretary Sir Donald Tsang Yam-kuen said in London yesterday.

"Let me give you this cast-iron guarantee: we will never abandon our

basic private-sector philosophy of maximum support, minimum

intervention," Mr Tsang said.

The government has formed a joint venture with the Walt Disney Company

to build a theme park on Lantau Island. The deal gives the government

a 57-per-cent stake in the company, with the option to take on another


$4 billion in equity.

Mr Tsang acknowledged that some people may fear the deal signals a

move away from the tradition of not interfering in the marketplace.

Similar concerns were raised when the government gave the Cyberport

project to the Pacific Century Group without tender and when it

intervened in the stock market last year.

"What you are seeing are examples of the government reacting

judiciously to the manifestation of private-sector demands," Mr Tsang


Building Hong Kong Disneyland will require at least $22.45 billion of

taxpayers' money. Government officials, including Mr Tsang, have

argued that most of this taxpayers' money will be spent on

infrastructure at Penny's Bay on Lantau Island. The money would have

been spent even if there had been no Disney deal.

Other theme park operators, including Universal Studios, have

reportedly considered Hong Kong for future projects.

Democratic legislator Sin Chung-kai said the Disney deal was not the

same as Cyberport and the stock market intervention.

An open tender would not be viable given that few theme parks have the

drawing power of Disney.

"This is a unique product," Mr Sin said.

The Democrats opposed the Cyberport deal and the stock market

intervention on the ground that it upset the level-playing field of

the marketplace. That hasn't happened with Disney.

"You have to take it case by case," Mr Sin said.

Competition from other theme parks is growing.

Fox Studio Australia, a $1.8 billion theme park in Sydney, is

scheduled to open on Sunday .The centrepiece of the theme park is

based on the hit movie Titanic. It is expected to attract more than

1.5 million visitors a year.

Viacom, Paramount Pictures' corporate parent, is in a joint venture to

build a $1.8 billion theme park in Melbourne.

Universal Studios is building a $10.14 billion theme park in Osaka,


The $19.5 billion Tokyo DisneySea is scheduled to open in 2001, four

years before Hong Kong Disneyland.

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