Wharf takes strength from equity buys

Business | Janice Huang and Samantha Wong 9 Mar 2018

Developer Wharf Holdings (0004) has spent HK$25.5 billion on investing in listed equities since the second half of 2017, which helped it record a 14 percent, year-on-year growth figure in core profit last year.

The company said a comparison with 2016 could not be made because of it spinning off Wharf Real Estate Investment Co (1997).

Chairman Stephen Ng Tin-hoi said the company had too much cash in hand so it invested in property stocks to earn dividends.

Ng emphasized that such investments could not be regarded as speculating in the stock market.

He said Wharf had also purchased "new economy" stocks in the mainland and in the United States, and it will invest in unlisted companies mainly in mainland market.

Wharf and parent Wheelock and Co (0020) would not make a specific division in land bidding since Hong Kong has a large property market, Ng added.

Wharf's annual growth took the core profit figure to HK$15.7 billion in 2017.

On Wharf REIC, which owns Harbour City and Times Square, it was noted that had there not been a demerger Wharf Holdings' core profit last year would have increased 21 percent to HK$16.6 billion. On the other hand, had the demerger been completed prior to 2016 last year's core profit would have increased by 36 percent to HK$7.1 billion.

Wharf will pay a second interim dividend of 95 HK cents per share.

Shares of the company climbed 0.65 percent yesterday.

On another property front, Hong Kong-based developer Far East Consortium (0035) will launch the pre-sale of 24 houses in Tan Kwai Tsuen in Sheung Shui from this year until 2019. It will also expand its hotel and gaming business in Europe. That follows it acquiring casino-hotel company Trans World Corp on Monday.

Janice Huang and Samantha Wong

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