The property market is fraught with uncertainties these days, and the mood has spilled over to land bidding.
Recent interest in tendering for a hotel site at the former Kai Tak airport, for example, was not enthusiastic. Among the few consortia that took part was long-time developer Great Eagle Holdings.
A property analyst observed that the group's executive director, Lo Ka-shui, is good at buying low when the market is hit by crises, citing as an example the Pak Shek Kok project now going on the market. That site was acquired many years ago at a super-low price when the market outlook was unclear.
So making a move now when the market is in disarray is a usual tactic for Great Eagle.
Great Eagle's mainstay is holding properties for long-term rental revenue, such as its Langham Place in Mong Kok and Citibank Plaza in Central.
In recent years the group has also been keen in developing its hotel chain under the Langham brand, and the number of hotels it is managing locally and overseas is growing.
Earlier, when a Kai Tak commercial site was put up for sale, Great Eagle was believed to have put in a bid that was much lower than the winning bid, which was over HK$10 billion. But the winner subsequently did not go through with the deal, citing a sudden change in market conditions as reason, and this precipitated a downturn of the commercial property market.
A prudent company does not make aggressive bids, and sudden changes in market conditions would not effect its financial position either. So it is able to make a move now when others are hesitating.
Siu Sai-wo is publisher of Sing Tao Daily