Originally known as The Hong Kong and Kowloon Wharf and Godown Company, Ltd, The Wharf Holdings Ltd was founded in 1886 and used to run wharfage and dockside warehousing. The company adopted its current name in 1986. Its major shareholder is Wheelock & Co. The company owns the iconic Star Ferry, two major flagship properties in the Harbour City and Times Square shopping centres in Hong Kong. Both owe their origins to Wharf’s transportation heritage, being built on the site of the company's original wharf, and on the site of the original depot of the Hong Kong Tramway, a former subsidiary. Wharf’s other holdings in Hong Kong include i-CABLE, Cable TV and Wharf T&T, and Modern Terminals.The company also holds many properties in the Tsim Sha Tsui area of Kowloon.
Wharf Holdings also owns operations and residential developments in Singapore through its Wheelock Properties subsidiary. Such properties include Wheelock Place and the former Seaview Hotel.
Wharf backs down on assets plan
The plan for the Hong Kong conglomerate The Wharf (Holdings) to have half of its total assets on the mainland may not be achievable in the near future, the company's chairman warned shareholders yesterday.
Peter Woo Kwong-ching, speaking at the company's annual meeting, said that although the property-to-telecommunications conglomerate had been looking at opportunities across the border, "the value of our Hong Kong assets has surged so rapidly that our investment cannot keep up with it."
The listed company's total assets on the mainland are now worth about 100 billion yuan (HK$125 billion), Woo said. This is about one third of its total assets, which had a value of nearly HK$369 billion, according to its 2012 annual report.
Wharf set out a policy in 2007 to raise the proportion of assets in the mainland to 50 per cent over the following five years.
"At that time, 100 billion yuan was about half of our total assets," Woo said. "I think [the situation] now is OK. Should we put another 100 billion yuan in the mainland in the coming year? I think it's impossible."
Asked if Wharf has new development projects on the mainland, he said it had been exploring for opportunities.
About 85 per cent of the floor area at its 16 billion yuan International Finance Square in Chengdu has been leased out already, he said, and the 600,000 square metre property is set to open in January next year.
Woo, 67, said he had a succession plan, but apart from his roles in listed companies, he still needed to take care of his family's business, which includes Lane Crawford, and he had no plan to retire yet.
Shares in Wharf dropped HK$1, or 1.43 per cent, to HK$69.2 yesterday.
Separately, Miramar Hotel and Investment Company said it would consider bidding for a commercial land site in Ma On Shan, where the tender closes today. Managing director Martin Lee Ka-shing said the site, which has a maximum gross floor area of 164,366 sq ft for shops, services, entertainment and restaurants, was not too large, and was suitable for the company.
Occupancy rate at the company's hotels fell 2 to 3 percentage points in the first half of the year compared to the same period last year, but still stayed at over 80 per cent, Lee said.
Miramar's shares fell 2.44 per cent to HK$10.38 yesterday.