Wharf (Holdings) is proposing for the second time to privatise its hotel arm Harbour Centre Development following a failed attempt in 1993. Analysts said the move was logical amid a streamlining of the Wheelock group. It comes a week after group holding company Wheelock successfully bought back its upmarket retailer Lane Crawford International with strong support from shareholders. Wharf said in an announcement that it was in a preliminary discussion on a possible privatisation of its 60.9 per cent-owned Harbour Centre. The firm made a bid to buy back Harbour Centre six years ago but called it off after it failed to win the required support from minority shareholders. Reports of a renewed attempt began to circulate in the market a few months ago, when Wheelock proposed to privatise Lane Crawford. Harbour Centre's share price has surged since the beginning of the year, partly on the privatisation speculation. It was at $6.40 when trading was suspended on Friday. However, the price is still less than half its net asset value per share of $15.54 at the end of last year. In the past seven months, the stock has risen as high as $6.75, from a low of $3.15. The possible privatisation will be through a scheme of arrangement, involving the cancellation of all issued shares in Harbour Centre that are not held ultimately by the company, according to the announcement jointly released by Harbour Centre and Wharf. Wharf did not disclose the offer price, adding no formal decision on the proposal had been made. Harbour Centre's biggest assets include The Hongkong Hotel in Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui, and a 20 per cent stake in the second phase of the Kowloon Airport Station development. Analysts said if Wharf offered to buy out the Harbour Centre shares at a 25 per cent discount to net asset value, a similar discount to that used in the Lane Crawford privatisation, the company would pay about $1.45 billion. '[The privatisation] is not unexpected. The group seems to be streamlining its operations,' said Ambrose Chang, chief investment officer of Daiwa International Capital Management. The plan, if it proceeds, would also increase the net asset value of Wharf. Harbour Centre last year saw net profit fall 80.69 per cent to $162.4 million, hit by Hong Kong's tourism and hotel slump. Besides Harbour Centre, Beauforte Investors, a Wharf unit which owns stock and property assets, and Wheelock's property vehicle Realty Development have been seen as possible privatisation targets.