Hopes MTR sale will reap $15b optimistic, say experts

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 07 March, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 28 October, 2016, 9:17am

The Government hopes to raise $35 billion from selling more MTRC shares and other assets.

But the projected $15 billion revenue from the Mass Transit Rail Corporation sell-off may be optimistic as the current share value is two-thirds of the $15 share value needed to raise this much, analysts say.

Mr Leung said the Government planned to dispose of the second tranche of MTRC shares this year.

It also planned to offload other unspecified assets in the 2004-05 and 2005-2006 financial years for a total of $20 billion.

Analysts believe other assets to be sold may include the Hong Kong Airport Authority, whose core asset, Chek Lap Kok airport, has recently returned to the black. The Cross-Harbour Tunnel, Lion Rock Tunnel, Shing Mun Tunnel, Aberdeen Tunnel, Cheung Tsing Tunnel and Tseung Kwan O Tunnel, may also be privatised.

Senior economist at Bank of East Asia Paul Tang Sai-on said: 'It is natural to generate cash by selling assets.

'However, the disposals, which are one-off gains, could not solve the problem of an operating deficit.'

The sale of a second batch of MTRC shares was postponed from last financial year due to the poor investment market. The corporation went public in late 2000.

The Government hopes to raise $15 billion from the second tranche, which means the shares would be sold at $15 as the tranche contains one billion shares. But the sale is expected to be difficult as the target price represents nearly a 40 per cent premium on yesterday's closing price of $10.75.

'If the Government proceeds with the sale, some positive news needs to flow in to boost the stock price,' one analyst said.

'As you know, the stock hasn't been doing well because of uncertainties over the sale of the second tranche and the bidding for the new rail project.'

Since November, the MTRC share price has been hovering around $10 as investors wait for news of the Sha Tin to Central railway project.

The Kowloon-Canton Railway Corp has emerged as a strong favourite to win the project as it has a more flexible policy on property development.