Great Eagle Holdings has recorded a drop of 18 per cent to 23 per cent in rental prices of its office property portfolio in Wan Chai and Central in the past two years. Lo Ka-shui, the firm's deputy chairman and managing director, said grade-A office rentals in Hong Kong had been under pressure since the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States. 'A large number of financial companies stopped expanding [after the attack],' he said. The immediate impact on Great Eagle had not been significant, however. Its major rental property, Citibank Plaza in Central, had an occupancy rate of 94 per cent, Mr Lo said. Great Eagle Centre in Wan Chai was 99 per cent occupied. However, average lettable rentals in its Central portfolio had fallen to HK$42 to HK$43 per square foot, down about 23 per cent from HK$55 per square foot two years ago. Average lettable rentals at Great Eagle Centre had dropped 18 per cent to HK$22 to HK$23 per square foot, compared with HK$27 to HK$28 per square foot previously. Mr Lo believed Hong Kong's office market would benefit from China's accession to the World Trade Organisation despite short-term pressure resulting from the US recession. He said Hong Kong would continue to be an international financial centre and tourism would prosper. The September 11 crisis had affected Great Eagle's overseas hotel business, said Mr Lo. '[Hotels owned by Great Eagle in] Boston and London faced the most significant impact, as occupancy rates shrank to only 30 to 40 per cent from the previous 80 per cent, and the average room rate came down 20 per cent,' he said. Occupancy rates had since rebounded to 60 per cent to 70 per cent, signalling a global tourism recovery, Mr Lo said. The group's plan to sell hotels in the US had been derailed by the September attacks. 'The timing is not good,' he said.