Lee Shau-kee boasts of big land bank for 45,000 flats

PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 April, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 11 April, 2011, 12:00am


Henderson Land Development could supply the city with 45,000 new flats from its own land bank, more than the government's annual target, chairman Lee Shau-kee has boasted in his official biography.

In a chapter on Lee's business strategy, the 82-year-old businessman is said to have taken advantage of the financial turmoil of 2007 to increase his land bank by acquiring old flats on more than 40 sites and 10 million square feet of agricultural land.

He now owns more than 40 million sqft of rural land.

Many of the sites are in core development areas in the northern New Territories, such as Fanling, Ping Che, Kwu Tung and Hung Shui Kiu.

'One can see Lee's investment strategy as courageous and decisive,' the book says. 'His moves in investing properties have long been a general indicator of the market.'

The book, written by financial commentator Anita Leung Fung-yee, follows an earlier biography published in 1997.

It also says Lee's sons - Peter Lee Ka-kit and Martin Lee Ka-shing - are ready to inherit the business after training arranged by their father over the years.

Taking into account all types of land, including farmland and redevelopment sites, Lee Shau-kee has potential floor area of 32 million square feet - enough for 45,000 flats.

Despite the government's policy of supplying land for at least 20,000 new flats each year, figures from the Rating and Valuation Department show that the actual supply of flats dropped from more than 10,000 in 2007 to 7,160 in 2009.

This means the potential supply from Lee is four times the government's annual goal and six times the actual supply in 2009.

Unlike sites bought at auction, where developments must be within a specified period, Lee's land bank is said to be potential supply because a land premium must be paid for converting farmland into residential use and talks with the government can often take years.

Describing Peter and Martin's work experience, Leung said their time spent handling various company businesses was their father's way of preparing them to take over.

For example, Peter was sent to Texas early in his career to start up the group's business overseas. Peter, who is single, sparked controversy in having three sons by a surrogate mother in the United States. He says he must be careful when choosing a wife because he does not want to see conflict between a couple harming family relations.

While Peter is now expanding the group's mainland business, Martin's role in various Hong Kong projects is discussed, including the controversial residential development Grand Promenade and the upgrading of the Mira, a hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui.

The senior Lee said the saga surrounding Grand Promenade in 2005 was one of the regrets of his life as the company was innocent.

The project was involved in a scandal amid allegations that a former buildings director used his discretion to allow Henderson extra land to expand the development.

The biography makes no mention of more recent controversies such as that surrounding 39 Conduit Road in which most of the early record-breaking transactions were cancelled before completion. A person close to the biography project said some deals happened after the book's publishing deadline.

Divorced from his wife 25 years ago, Lee also has three daughters. Known for favouring sons, he told Leung of his preference for a grandson before Martin's wife, Cathy Tsui Chi-kei - a former model - delivered his second grandchild, a girl.