Swire Group, whose activities span property, aviation, beverages, marine services, and trading and industrial, is a Hong Kong listed conglomerate. It is the parent of Hong Kong carrier, Cathay Pacific Airways, and Dragonair, and Hong Kong Aircraft Engineering Co (Haeco) is a subsidiary. Swire Pacific and Swire Properties are the main listed arms of the group, which also owns Swire Hotels.
Office buyers buck trend to avoid soaring prices
Estate agents say that speculators and end-users have been using the normally quiet holiday season to snap up offices before prices climb any higher.
Commercial director with Jones Lang Wootton (JLW), Fung Kin-keung, said: 'Prices look set to continue going up, so companies are inclined to go into the market sooner rather than later to purchase properties.' Office property transactions have increased noticeably in recent months. Buying interest has spread from the core Central district to fringe areas, including Sheung Wan, North Point and Tsim Sha Tsui.
One unidentified buyer recently purchased the 33rd floor of the former Victoria Hotel along the Sheung Wan waterfront for $13,600 per square foot, according to JLW.
In North Point, Swire Properties reported that it had sold 19 floors of its 25-storey development, Island Place Tower.
Swire initially sold 13 floors, but such was the demand for grade A office space that it sold a further six floors of the office complex after being approached privately by individual buyers.
It sold four floors for $280 million or $6,800 to $6,900 per sq ft on December 18. On December 27, one floor was sold for $7,990 per sq ft.
Swire officials said that the sale of a further two or more floors was also in the offing.
Midland Realty reported deals in the grade A office sector had peaked in mid-November, while other agents disagreed, saying that sales activity was still brisk.
Assistant director with the property agent, A G Wilkinson & Associates, Michael McGuire, said: 'For this time of the year, we are seeing one of the highest levels of activity that we can remember.' He and other agents said that the general level of interest and buying activity in the grade A office market suggested a rapid momentum upwards in prices.
Mr Fung said that increased sales activity since the middle of December confirmed positive sentiment on commercial property.
Some agents said that the market was beginning to feel the increased presence of mainland buyers.
In the past two weeks, a mainland concern had purchased the 43rd floor of the Far East Finance Centre for $148 million, they said.
Mainland buyers had also recently snapped up the 15th floor of Nine Queen's Road Central and 15 floors of No 3 Cameron Road in Tsim Sha Tsui, they said.
JLW figures reveal investment levels for prime grade A space soared 38.14 per cent during the final quarter of last year and 55.8 per cent for the full year, compared with 1995.
SEASONAL FLING Buyers snap up grade A office properties Prices look set to continue upwards Mainland money reported to be moving in