At least 17 Hong Kong and overseas companies formed consortiums yesterday to bid for the Kowloon Station second-phase residential development, unmoved by the property market downturn. In addition to the territory's major developers, mainland companies look increasingly keen to participate in the lucrative residential property sector. China Everbright Holdings, an investment conglomerate directly controlled by the State Council, has submitted an expression of interest to the MTRC as part of a consortium with Sino Land Co and Chinachem Group, its first foray into the airport railway property projects. Citic Pacific, the local arm of Beijing's China International Trust and Investment Corp, also forged an alliance with HKR International and Kerry Properties to declare an intention to bid. Cosco (Hong Kong) Group, the Hong Kong arm of China's largest shipping company, China Ocean Shipping (Group), also showed interest in bidding for the development. The $15 billion development package, comprising a total gross floor area of 2.26 million square feet of residential space, is the latest airport property contract to be tendered by the MTRC. Formal tendering will begin in the third quarter of this year. Before that, the MTRC is expected to tender for the phase-three hotel development at Olympic Station in Tai Kok Tsui. Hysan Development Co and Hang Lung Development Co joined forces to deliver an expression of interest in the project. Another consortium member is believed to be Great Eagle Holdings. Property giants having declared bidding interest in the Kowloon project include New World Development Co, Sun Hung Kai Properties and Lai Sun Development Co. Other heavyweights are believed to include Swire Properties, Henderson Land Development Co and Cheung Kong (Holdings). Details of joint ventures among these property giants have yet to be finalised. The deputy general manager of medium-sized property firm Eton Properties, John Pang Kit-man, said it had formed a consortium with Hon Kwok Land Investment Co, Singaporean-based DBS Land and another Singapore company to submit an expression of interest in the development. Property developers said the enthusiastic response indicated a long-term bullish outlook for the housing market which recently corrected after government moves to stifle speculation. To date, the MTRC has awarded eight of 15 property development contracts at the railway stations, including the huge $40 billion Central station project and the phase one Kowloon Station development. The first-phase development in Kowloon Station was awarded to a consortium dominated by Singapore companies, including Wing Tai Holdings, Temasek Holdings, Singapore Land and Straits Steamship Land, last year.