Hang Lung Properties expects grade-A office rentals in Central may plunge a further 15 per cent this year, saying the market will take about seven years to absorb the excess supply. Executive director Terry Ng Sze-yuen yesterday painted a sorry picture for the sector. 'The economy will pick up gradually. Next year will be better, but unlikely much better, than today,' he said. Overall, Central grade-A office rentals had declined 10 to 15 per cent last year and he expected another correction of 10 to 15 per cent this year. Recently, Hang Lung had renewed a leasing contract for a 7,000 sq ft office at its Standard Chartered Bank Building in Central at a net effective monthly rental of HK$25 per square foot, compared with HK$45 per square foot two years before, he said. However, Mr Ng said the four commercial buildings in Central under the group's leasing portfolio accounted for only about 6 per cent of the total rental income and thus the downside would not harm its overall revenue. He said the anticipated rental reduction could be offset by its growing income from Shanghai leases. The group had generated about HK$2.2 billion rental income last year, with about HK$200 million coming from Shanghai. The group was developing two projects in Shanghai comprising a total of three million square feet, he said.