The latest tender exercise for four international school sites has attracted interest from across the globe, with one site in Stanley appealing to dozens of operators from the city and overseas.
Today is the deadline for bidders to submit their proposals to the Education Bureau, following site visits organised recently.
The tussle for the sites involved lobbying foreign business chambers and consulates, and could mean that some schools face eviction if the results, expected in the first quarter next year, go against them.
Critics have warned that a failure to meet the growing demand for places at international schools could deter highly skilled workers from coming to the city.
A spokeswoman for Hong Kong International School, which is "interested" in the allocation exercise, said: "We realise the critical need for more school spaces and we would like the opportunity to further contribute to Hong Kong's international school landscape, particularly at the primary school level."
British education provider Nord Anglia, which runs three schools on the mainland as well as others in Europe, the Middle East and elsewhere in Asia, has also confirmed it will place a bid.
Over the past few weeks, the Education Bureau organised visits for potential bidders to the premises in Lam Tin, Ping Shek, Shau Kei Wan and Stanley, to evaluate renovation costs.
An executive of a Middle East-based school who joined the site visit said that the Stanley site attracted more than 40 bidders.
"We know that the Stanley campus is a great location, even if it requires [renovation] work. However, there are 40 parties bidding for it," ESOL regional director Bassam Abushakra said. His organisation dropped its bid because a "majority [of bidders] have better local connections", he said.
"The government should serve local schools first," Harbour School principal Jadis Blurton said, adding the school had received support from the diplomatic community as well as foreign business leaders.
An acute lack of space in the urban area has led to a "location crisis" for the 175-student primary school, she said, with its classes run separately in three office buildings in Kennedy Town.
The current allocation exercise, which could provide more than 1,000 places, is unlikely to solve the shortage of international school places.
Secretary for Education Eddie Ng Hak-kim said recently that the shortage of international primary school places could reach 4,200 in the next few years.
Ma Hang Estate phase III, Stanley
Site area 4,730 square metres
Age of building 11 years
Status immediately available
460 Shau Kei Wan Road, Shau Kei Wan
Site area 3,380 square metres
Age of building 56 years
Status vacant from August 2014
11 On Tin Street, Lam Tin
Site area 4,554 square metres
Age of building 41 years
Status subject to completion of site surrender procedure
Ping Shek Estate, Kwun Tong
Site area 1,679 square metres
Age of building 43 years
Status vacant from September 2013