Former SHKP chairman Walter Kwok said to be seeking back-door listing
Former chairman of SHKP linked with an attempt to buy firm to list his own business
Walter Kwok Ping-sheung, the ousted chairman of Sun Hung Kai Properties (SHKP), is reportedly seeking a back-door stock exchange listing for his own businesses.
Market observers say it is a logical move in Kwok's (pictured) quest to expand his private business empire.
"Buying a listed shell company only costs HK$200 million to HK$300 million, and hundreds of them are available in the market," Phillip Capital Management fund manager Li Kwok-suen said.
The market began to speculate about Kwok's plans after he changed the names of two private shell companies to Empire Group Consultants and Kin Kwok Construction & Engineering since June.
Kwok was actively seeking a back-door listing, according to sources quoted by Ming Pao on Monday. The paper named him as one of the contenders to acquire Vincent Lo Hong-sui's Socam Development, which announced it was approached by a potential buyer in March.
But last month, Socam said its major shareholder, Shui On Land, failed to reach a deal with a potential buyer of Socam's shares.
Kwok and Lai Sun Development's HK$2.8 billion joint venture residential project in Ma On Shan may be a potential asset to be injected into the listed company once the plan materialised, said Ming Pao. Shares of Lai Sun jumped 12 per cent to close at 21.3 HK cents yesterday.
In January, the Kwok family, which controls developer SHKP, announced that it had reached "an amicable agreement regarding the treatment of the family's interests" in the HK$317 billion firm.
Alfred Lau, a property analyst at Bocom International, said it would be more sensible to have a listed company serve as a platform for fundraising once Kwok had accumulated a property portfolio requiring an investment exceeding HK$10 billion.
"Otherwise, it may not need listed status, as the cost of borrowing remains low," Lau said.
A spokesman for Kwok said he had no plans to seek a listing but confirmed the restructuring of two of his private companies to pursue consultancy and construction business.