Sino, Kwok JV grab key Aberdeen site

Business | Carrie Chen 13 Oct 2016

A joint venture of Sino Land (0083) and Empire Group Holdings beat major developers, including Sun Hung Kai Properties (0016) and Henderson Land (0012), for the purchase of a major development site in Aberdeen.

Grand Apex, the Sino-Empire Group joint venture vehicle, acquired the site for HK$2.53 billion, the most expensive commercial land sale in Hong Kong Island's history. The deal marks another milestone in Empire Group founder Walter Kwok Ping-sheung's steady rise to prominence in the local property market since he parted ways with his brothers at the helm of SHKP, where he used to serve as chairman.

The Aberdeen site, was hotly contested as the government received 24 purchase bids from leading developers which also included Wheelock Properties (0020) and K Wah International Holding (0173). The large number of bidders made it the most popular commercial development site in history.

The commercial project to be built on the 18,9960-square-foot site will produce a maximum gross floor area of as much as 284,945 sq ft. Based on the maximum GFA, the average price of the commercial premises can be as high as HK$8,872 per sq ft.

Before the sale, valuers estimated the Aberdeen site to fetch between HK$1.22 billion and HK$2.28 billion, or HK$4,300 to HK$8,000 per sq ft.

Under the terms of development, the purchaser is required to establish a 30,000-sq-ft arts and cultural center on the site. The government will later acquire the center for HK$295 million. Sino Group executive director Daryl Ng Win- kong said the project will benefit from the extension of the MTR service to the southern part of Hong Kong Island.

"The upcoming MTR South Island Line (East) will significantly shorten the travel time from Admiralty to Aberdeen to just a few minutes, greatly enhancing connectivity with other parts of the island and enhancing Wong Chuk Hang's potential," he said.

"The [purchase] price is actually close to our expectation of about HK$8,000 per sq ft," said Victor Lai Kin-fai, chief executive for valuations at Centaline. "The foreseeable prospect of the site is the main reason why it appealed to a large number of developers."

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