US snaps up floor space for $86m

Business | 5 May 2021

Kevin Xu

The United States is leveraging on the SAR's property market at a time when the office segment is reeling from pandemic woes.

The American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong bought a floor at Hong Kong Diamond Exchange Building in Central for HK$85.8 million after it sold its office space of 5,968 square feet at Bank of America Tower on Harcourt Road for HK$145 million in October.

The 2,750-sq-ft floor at the 26-story Diamond Exchange Building at 8-10 Duddell Street was sold off at HK$31,229 psf. The seller, who bought the floor for HK$12.2 million in 1991, will pick up HK$73.6 million.

The deal went through after the sale of the US government's six-block residential property at Shouson Hill - a thorny issue for potential buyers amid the Sino-US rift. That was not completed until February.

Beijing had stepped in unexpectedly and said its approval was needed in late 2020.

The Land Registry told Hang Lung Properties (0101), which agreed to buy the luxury villas for HK$2.56 billion in September, that if the US consulate general intended to rent, purchase or sell any property in Hong Kong, then the US government must make a written application to China at least 60 days before any deal.

It also stated that the US consulate was not a commercial entity, and nor was the property ordinary real estate.

Washington had put the six blocks occupying a 94,796-sq-ft spread at 37 Shouson Hill Road up for sale amid tensions over Hong Kong. It had held the property since 1948.

The twists raised eyebrows as tycoon Ronnie Chan Chi-chung, the chairman of Hang Lung Properties, has good relations with influential elements in the mainland and the United States.

Beijing's high-profile interference has rarely been seen in other transactions of consulate property in Hong Kong.

Five years ago the Canadian consulate sold a house at 6 Goldsmith Road in Jardine's Lookout to Pansy Ho Chiu-king, daughter of the late Macau casino tycoon Stanley Ho.

And in 2011, the French consulate sold its property at 8 Pollock's Path to Ryoden Development.

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