Henderson chief to give land for flats

Lee Shau-kee's plan to donate two plots of farmland in Yuen Long and Fanling to the government could yield more than 3,000 units

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 June, 2013, 3:47am

Henderson Land Development chairman Lee Shau-kee has offered two plots of farmland in the New Territories to the government to build affordable housing for young people.

"One is in Yuen Long and the other one is in Fanling," Lee said yesterday after an annual general meeting of Hong Kong and China Gas, an associate of his flagship Henderson Land.

On Monday, Lee, 85, revealed he was in talks to donate a Fanling site - one of seven sites he or Henderson Land had offered to the government. At the time, he said the Fanling site could yield more than 1,000 flats.

He clarified yesterday that the Yuen Long site, owned by his privately run company, would provide more than 1,000 flats, while the Fanling land, which was bigger, would produce more than 2,000 units.

The government was studying if the sites would meet town planning, transport and environmental requirements, he said.

It is unknown whether the bigger Fanling site is owned by Lee or his listed vehicle Henderson Land. But Lee had earlier said he would personally compensate minority shareholders if the company's sites were donated to the government.

The tycoon first publicly raised the idea of donating the land in January, saying he would be willing to build small homes on his land in the New Territories and sell them cheap to first-time buyers.

Lee has said his wish is that the land will yield flats of 300 sq ft to be sold for HK$1 million each, taking into account the construction cost of about HK$3,000 per sq ft. His company will not carry out the construction.

The seven sites he wants to donate, costing between HK$800 million and HK$1 billion, can yield a total of 10,000 flats. Some are owned by Henderson Land.

Lee said he believed it would be easier to get government approval for the two sites now under study. He expected the site donation, if accepted by the government, to be handled by the Housing Society or Housing Authority.

The site donation was intended to make it easier for young people to own their homes, the tycoon said, dismissing speculation that his move was aimed at benefiting his company's business development in the New Territories.

At the end of December, Henderson Land held New Territories land reserves amounting to about 42.8 million sq ft in land area, which was the largest holding among all property developers in Hong Kong, according to the company's financial results for last year, announced in March.

Lee said he had no immediate retirement plans and wanted to serve shareholders for another five to 10 years.