Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying says he will transfer his stake in an unnamed company linked to property giant DTZ to a trust after coming under pressure from the public, but he declined to say yesterday what the company is called or where it operates.
Leung had pledged before his election to move his stakes in British-based property consultancy DTZ Holdings and its subsidiaries to a trust, and his office said yesterday that his shares in Wintrack Worldwide, which holds a stake in the unnamed DTZ subsidiary, would also be transferred to the trust.
Amid claims of a possible conflict of interest, Leung refused to be drawn on the identity of the DTZ subsidiary, except to say that it operated in a single foreign country and its operations did not touch on Hong Kong or the mainland.
Leung is a former managing director of DTZ Debenham Tie Leung, a company offering property services in Hong Kong, and retains a 0.01 per cent stake in it. That company is 99 per cent owned by DTZ Pacific Holdings.
While he did not directly address whether the foreign branch referred to was DTZ Pacific Holdings, and did not say in which country the foreign branch operates, Leung said: "That foreign branch only manages business in that country."
And he said it was "not a subsidiary or holding company of DTZ in Hong Kong and on the mainland".
Members of the Executive Council released their declarations of interest on Friday. Leung's declaration showed he was a shareholder in three companies including DTZ Holdings, a global property management and consultancy company which was listed on the London Stock Exchange until its purchase by Australia's UGL last year. The other companies were Lotvest, which owns Leung's properties in Hong Kong, and British Virgin Islands-based Wintrack.
Leung made a statement on Saturday explaining his failure to put his DTZ stakes into a trust but did not offer an exhaustive list of what Wintrack owns. That led to questions about his reasons for setting up the offshore company.
Some Chinese-language newspapers questioned whether Wintrack might hold a stake in DTZ Pacific Holdings.
The claim was based on DTZ Holdings' annual report, which said Leung had a 30 per cent ownership stake in an unidentified subsidiary.
Leung said his small stake in DTZ Debenham Tie Leung and his 2.63 per cent shareholding in DTZ Holdings were too small for him to control either company.
Political analyst James Sung Lap-kung said Leung - who was also Asia-Pacific chairman of DTZ Holdings before resigning this post and his role in local company DTZ Debenham Tie Leung in November last year to run for chief executive - had fallen short of public expectations by not living up to his pre-election pledge to cut ties with the businesses.
"The public expected him to cut all links with DTZ and the business sector. Only this way can he ease doubts that he might have a conflict of interest," Sung said.
He criticised Leung for releasing information about his interests only after media reports. "His handling is very poor. He should sell all his stakes if he wants to serve the city in the long run," he said.