Ah Pak

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 February, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 February, 2009, 12:00am

Baby benchmark set at HK$180m
It is common practice for a grateful manto give the mother of his newly born baby a present to show his appreciation. Not so common is a HK$180 million price tag on the gift of gratitude.

But now it seems a new baby benchmark has been set by Chinese Estates Holdings chairman Joseph Lau Luen-hung, who was believed to have spent that sum buying a house at 3B Gough Hill Path on the Peak recently and has now evidently given the house to his assistant Chan How-wan, according to Ah Pak.

Readers will recall that four months ago Ms Chan gave birth to a baby girl and set tongues wagging with talk that Mr Lau was the father. His long-time girlfriend, Yvonne Lui Lai-kwan, went into damage-control mode and issued an open letter saying the identity of the father was ?not known?. If Ms Lui is still in any doubt, would the gift answer any outstanding questions? Mr Lau was not available for comment.

CBRE star dealmaker poached by Knight Frank
In December, Ah Pak mentioned that CB Richard Ellis executive director of investment property Henry Lam Wai-hon had departed the property consultancy firm unexpectedly - a move that took the market by surprise. Now Ah Pak learns that Mr Lam was poached from CBRE by rival property consultant Knight Frank and his new responsibility is to steer its investment department into new directions. Mr Lam is a veteran in the Hong Kong property market with a record of closing big deals not only when the market is booming but also in bad times.

Among the most noticeable of the transactions in which he was involved was the sale of Tung Ying Commercial Building in Nathan Road for HK$1.1 billion to Chinese Estates Holdings. The deal was closed in 2002 at a point when the city was in the grip of an economic downturn. Knight Frank must now be banking on Mr Lam repeating his successes in the present downturn.

China Overseas deputy takes well-earned rest after stellar results
China Overseas Land & Investment vice-chairman Kong Qingping took a break on the resort island of Hainan during the Lunar New Year and Ah Pak guesses shareholders would not begrudge the time off. The Hong Kong-listed property flagship of the mainland's Ministry of Construction was one of the few developers to end the year on a high note, reporting property sales for the year of HK$26.61 billion and a total gross floor area sold of 2.71 million square metres (up 19.3 per cent and 25.4 per cent, respectively). The good news continues and last month property sales amounted to 1.2 billion yuan (HK$1.36 billion) and the total gross floor area sold reached 160,000 sq metres, increases of 60 per cent and 149.7 per cent, respectively, from January last year. To celebrate, Mr Kong said the company's sales division was also given a break over the Lunar New Year.

Pay rises lighten gloom
For months now Hong Kong has been under a dark cloud of negative news such as lay-offs and pay cuts. But Ah Pak has learned of a silver lining that may be attached to that cloud. It seems that Hang Lung Properties and Swire Properties helped to lighten some of the gloom by giving their staff pay rises despite the declining economy.

Hang Lung executive director Terry Ng Sze-yuen said the pay rise averaged 3 per cent, reflecting company performance. Last year, it was 6 per cent. Ah Pak also learned that some staff at Sun Hung Kai Properties also got pay rises. The firm said all staff got their 13th month salary.

It's a wrap, plainly speaking
The casualties of the global financial crisis range from collapsed investment banks to cancelled orders for fancy gift-wrapping paper. Ah Pak is happy to report he has a sheet of the fancy paper although he is in some doubt that its cancelled production run will turn it into a collector's item. When times were still buoyant developer Shui On Land had the idea of distributing gifts in wrapping paper sporting the company's flying seagull logo. A few got out including one mailed to Ah Pak before the production run was called to a halt.

The seagull has landed and now it is back to plain paper wrappings.