Wheelock boss builds SHK stake

Business | Victor Cheung 9 Nov 2012

Peter Woo Kwong-ching, boss of property giants Wharf Holdings (0004) and Wheelock & Co (0020), has emerged as one of the biggest shareholders of rival Sun Hung Kai Properties (0016), having rapidly built up a stake worth billions this year.

The HK$5.5 billion holdings in Hong Kong's largest developer amounted to a 1.9 percent stake as of Wednesday and was held by an in-house brokerage called Corrington.

A Wheelock spokeswoman confirmed Corrington was owned by the Woo family.

According to data provided by stock commentator David Webb, Corrington started to accumulate a stake in SHKP gradually from mid-2009.

After March 2012, when SHKP shares tumbled after its bosses - the Kwok brothers - were arrested on corruption charges, Corrington's holdings soared from 11.2 million shares on March 31 to as much as 53.9 million earlier this month. Then, Corrington's holdings receded to 48.3 million shares.

No shareholder of SHKP holds more than a 5 percent stake in the company other than members of the Kwok family, according to stock exchange disclosures.

Corrington is not "buying and holding" SHKP shares. It did 327 trades since June 2007, or about one every four trading days. It bought 10.2 million shares on April 3, 2012 - for almost HK$1 billion - and sold roughly the same amount in the next session. This year alone it did 74 trades, or about twice a week.

If calculated by the day's close, the HK$5.5 billion stake in SHKP gained 7 percent in the past five years.

Since March, Corrington has spent HK$3.2 billion to increase holdings to 31.8 million shares.

The Wheelock group has a very modest relationship with SHKP. Their only joint venture in recent years has been the Chengdu ICC, with Wharf, SHKP and Henderson Land (0012).

Corrington holds few shares of New World Development (0017), a much closer partner of Wheelock and Wharf.

However, it must be noted that Corrington may not represent the entire shareholding of Woo or the group, as there are cross transfers between the brokerage and other private banks.

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