I shall return, says Sun Hung Kai's Walter Kwok
Walter Kwok Ping-sheung yesterday hinted he would return to work after a two-month leave of absence from chairing Sun Hung Kai Properties.
When confronted by reporters before a meeting of Hong Kong delegates to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, he simply replied: 'I shall, I shall.' But he did not say exactly when he would resume work at SHKP.
Analysts took Mr Kwok's remark to mean he has no intention of resigning from SHKP to set up his own company.
'The chances of Mr Kwok establishing his own business are slim,' said Li Kwok-suen, a fund manager at Phillip Capital Management.
Mr Li believed it was just a family issue that led Mr Kwok to step down temporarily as chairman.
However, an official company announcement of Mr Kwok's future role in the company would be required to help remove market uncertainties, he said.
The oldest of the three Kwok brothers handed over the chair temporarily on February 18, which sources said followed a clash with his siblings over his relationship with a woman. The company said his duties would be assumed by Thomas Kwok Ping-kwong and Raymond Kwok Ping-luen.
'Following the family dispute, as investors, we would like to know how the three Kwok brothers split their responsibilities instead of when Mr [Walter] Kwok would report to work,' Mr Li said.
Eric Wong, a joint head of Asian property research at UBS, expects the three brothers to work together for SHKP after resolving family issues.
'From what we've seen so far, Mr Kwok is unlikely to leave as SHKP is a market leader,' Mr Wong said.
'Even if he decides to leave SHKP, it will not have an adverse impact on the company.'
Sources said Mr Kwok had been coming to the office frequently in the past two months, although he had not resumed his duties as chairman.
'As the firm's business has had no significant change in the past two months, investors still have confidence in its management,' said Castor Pang Wai-sun, Sun Hung Kai Financial's strategist, who noted that institutional investors had not dumped SHKP shares.
Shares of SHKP fell 3.77 per cent to HK$138 yesterday when the Hang Seng Index dropped 651.92 points to close at 25,610.21.
A spokesman at SHKP did not comment on when Mr Kwok would resume the chairmanship. 'He is still on leave,' she said.
On February 18, Mr Kwok issued a personal statement through a company spokesman that he would be away for a personal and business trip overseas lasting two to three months.
His statement came 11/2 hours after SHKP announced he would relinquish all duties and responsibilities, with immediate effect.