Ah Pak

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 August, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 August, 2009, 12:00am

Mainland investor snaps up Merrill properties

When the going gets tough, it helps to have cashed-up cousins living in your neighbourhood.

Take the case of the need by Merrill Lynch's real estate fund to dispose of three Hong Kong properties in the wash-up that has followed the takeover by Bank of America of the failed former Wall Street banking icon under a mountain of debt last year.

The properties are Silver Fortune Plaza in Central and Golden Plaza and Pakpolee Commercial Centre in Mong Kok.

They were reportedly sold for a total of about HK$1.6 billion, a price that was nearly 17 per cent higher than the HK$1.37 billion the US investment bank paid in 2007.

In the event, one buyer bought the lot, and it came as no surprise to Ah Pak to learn that the purchaser was a mainland investor able to put in a bid that a beaten fund manager confided was 'much higher than we could justify'.

Helping to fuel this investment spree by mainland buyers, Tao Dong, an economist with Credit Suisse pointed out last week, was about one trillion yuan (HK$1.13 trillion) of 'hot money' created by the lending spree on the mainland.

With access to cash and credit that puts them in such a powerful bargaining position, mainland buyers have also become keen bidders for luxury residential property in Hong Kong, either for their own use or as investments.

About HK$15 billion of top-end residential properties were sold in the Kowloon station area alone in the first half of this year.

And who were the buyers at developments there such as Harbourside and Cullinan?

About 20 to 30 per cent were from the mainland, Ah Pak hears.

Water Cube set for CR Land logo launch

The 'Water Cube', known formally as the Beijing National Aquatics Centre, was the venue at which US swimmer Michael Phelps set his world records and won eight Olympic golds a year ago.

When he next visits the site, chances are he won't recognise it once he walks through the doors, since the 1.2 billion yuan (HK$1.36 billion) Water Cube will be transformed into a home for the capital's largest water sports centre and nightclubs to enhance its commercial value. A swimwear fashion show has also been held at the venue recently. To support its commercialisation, China Resources Land will invite 500 guests next month to the launch of its new logo at the Water Cube.

Vanke chairman aims to top Everest record

Wang Shi (below), the chairman of the country's largest listed developer, China Vanke, became the mainland's oldest man to reach the top of Mount Everest when he was 52 in 2003.

Now he plans to beat his own record by making another climb next year when he turns 59 according to the Western calendar but 60 according to the Chinese calendar.

'I will do it again when I'm 60,' Mr Wang said recently.

'But whether I will try again at 70 I do not know,' the fit and forceful chairman added.

'People should change the mindset of retiring at 50.

'Nowadays it is common to live a healthy life until the age of 80,' said Mr Wang.