Shimao may gain hotel project in Russia zone

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 11 November, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 11 November, 2004, 12:00am

Mainland property tycoon Hui Wing-mau may inject his interest in the Sino-Russian free trade zone, which includes a proposed hotel-casino project, into Shimao China Holdings.

Mr Hui, who chairs the Hong Kong-listed company, said the investment cost of the first phase of the zone - a joint-venture project with a Russian firm - was about 10 billion yuan.

The first phase is scheduled for completion by 2010.

The project was approved by the governments of both countries in 1999. About 1.53 square kilometres of the 4.53-square-kilometre complex is in Suifenhe, Heilongjiang, while the rest is in Russia's Primorsky region.

Visas will not be required for Chinese or Russians entering the zone, which will include facilities for logistics, exhibitions, entertainment and tourism.

There will also be simplified customs procedures. Russian laws will be in force in the Russian section of the complex, while China law will apply in the Heilongjiang portion.

'I hope the zone will turn out to be a tourism city like Macau,' Mr Hui said.

However, he noted that casinos would not be the major business in the complex.

Hong Kong-listed companies have been scrambling to put forth Macau and casino-related projects in recent weeks to capitalise on the 'Macau concept' fever sweeping the market.

Mr Hui would not reveal the size of his stake in the project, saying: 'There are various projects in the complex, and our stakes in them usually range from 80 to 90 per cent.'

He said he would retain about 80 per cent of the hotel-casino project, which would be located within the Russian territory as Chinese law prohibited gambling.