Ocean Park has appointed Lai Sun Development, headed by Hong Kong Tourism Board chief Peter Lam Kin-ngok, as its partner in the development of its HK$4.1 billion resort hotel, it said in an announcement after the stock market closed yesterday.
Shares of Lai Sun Development and its parent Lai Sun Garment (International) were suspended from trading at 9am yesterday pending an announcement in relation to a "very substantial acquisition".
Ocean Park said the appointment of Lai Sun followed the Town Planning Board's approval of the hotel design submitted by Ocean Park.
"Demolition work and construction on the site near the park's main entrance will begin in late 2014, targeting for completion of the Ocean Hotel in 2017," it said.
Ocean Park and Capital Court, which is wholly owned by Lai Sun, will work together to complete the lease modification process. At the same time, a traffic impact assessment and plans for traffic arrangements during the construction period would be prepared for the Transport Department before work on the site begins late this year, Ocean Park said.
Ocean Park said in October last year Capital Court had been found to be the "most preferred proponent" for the project after a six-month study of bids that sparked criticism of a potential conflict of interest.
Lai Sun Development is part of the Lai Sun Group, which Lam also chairs. The pro-government businessman is known to be a supporter of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying. He was named Tourism Board chairman early last year and appointed to a new government advisory committee on trade co-operation with the mainland in October. He is also a delegate to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.
Lai Sun teamed up with Marriott International in the bidding and offered about HK$1.6 billion in land premium. The construction cost is estimated at HK$2.5 billion. The 495-room hotel, to be operated by Marriott, will sit on a 1.7-hectare site at the park's main entrance in Aberdeen.
Lai Sun Development shares closed at 18.5 HK cents on Friday while Lai Sun Garment ended at HK$1.08.