Hong Kong's property magnates, some of whose listed flagships have sunk to their lowest levels on the stock market since the early 1990s, are demonstrating confidence in the shares by raising their holdings. The most significant stock purchases have been made by the family of Cheng Yu-tung, chairman and controlling shareholder of New World Development, through its Chow Tai Fook Enterprises private company. The family has recently spent about $100 million buying 12 million New World shares representing about 0.6 per cent of the company's issued capital. Sources said the purchases were made in the past three days as most other investors were selling out of the local stock market. New World shares yesterday fell as much as 8.2 per cent at one stage to $7.85 before strengthening to close down 5.8 per cent at $8.05. In the past three days, New World has fallen 12 per cent to its lowest point in the past 7.5 years, hit by fears of a possible yuan devaluation and concerns about the impact of flooding on its mainland investments. Other businessmen who have bought their companies' shares include the Kwok brothers of Sun Hung Kai Properties, the Lo family of Great Eagle Holdings and the Lim family of Lai Sun Development. Analysts said major shareholders of many property companies were taking advantage of the sharp slump in prices to increase stakes in their own firms. Dresdner Kleinwort Benson property analyst Terry Ip said pouring millions of dollars into share purchases would provide support to the companies because it would go some way towards restoring investor confidence and preventing panic selling. But analysts said confidence in property stocks was unlikely to rebound until the economy, and particularly the property market, started to show signs of recovery. Sources said New World yesterday bought more than 330,000 shares in its subsidiary New World Infrastructure. This represented more than 10 per cent of yesterday's trade in the stock. New World Infrastructure, which fell to a low of $4.95 yesterday, closed 5 cents down at $5.70 after New World's purchases. According to stock exchange disclosure of interests reports, the Kwok brothers, including chairman Walter Kwok Ping-shueng, bought 566,000 shares in the company between July 31 and August 4 at between $25.50 and $28.85. The purchase came two months after they bought 352,000 shares in the company at between $35.70 and $36.60. SHKP shares closed down 40 cents to $22.50, their lowest since January 1992. Lai Sun Development chairman and controlling shareholder Lim Por-yen reportedly bought 900,000 shares in the company at between 91.5 cents and 93.5 cents on July 27 to July 28. The shares fell one cent to 92 cents - more than 90 per cent down on their level a year ago. Great Eagle controlling shareholder and managing director Lo Ka-shui reportedly bought 100,000 shares in the company at $6.225 each on July 27.