KOWLOON Motor Bus has defended its $1.7 billion land sale by private treaty to Sun Hung Kai Properties (SHKP), saying a public auction would not necessarily have helped get a better price ''in the light of the volatility of the property market''. The sale was questioned this week in a widely-circulated letter signed by ''a group of small shareholders of KMB''. The group asked why its company had accepted an offer for the two sites from SHKP, which owns 31.6 per cent of KMB, without talking to other developers. The deal was completed in four working days. In a formal statement to shareholders, KMB today gives extra information on the sale, and states that neither site is affected by the changes to plot ratios announced by the Government on December 24. If they had been affected, their value would have been substantially increased. KMB says it was this by original valuation firm Knight Frank Kan and Baillieu. Ho Yiu-wai, director of the industrial agency at Jones Lang Wootton, also commented on the sale yesterday, saying: ''I think it is quite a fair deal for both the purchaser and vendor.'' Neither Mr Ho nor Jones Lang Wootton played a part in the original sale. SHKP arranged for Mr Ho to brief reporters about the sale. According to KMB, SHKP made an unsolicited offer to buy the two sites on November 24 and demanded an answer by November 29. The period included a weekend. Mr Ho said such deals were not unusual. ''It's a negotiating tactic,'' he said, adding that he had seen property offers which expired at 5 pm on the day they were made. However, KMB has yet to state why it made no attempt even to speak to other property developers, even if it considered a formal auction too slow, expensive and risky. Its statement largely follows the reasoning of Wardley Corporate Finance, the independent adviser which recommended that shareholders vote in favour of the sale in the original documents. But KMB also mentions ''the additional time and cost which would inevitably be involved in the preparation for a sale by public auction or tender''. It adds as a factor, ''in the light of the volatility of the property market, the uncertainty that a sale by public auction or tender would result in a higher price being obtained for the properties''. KMB is selling a site at How Ming Street, Kwun Tong, for $1.22 billion, and part of a site at Kwai Chung Road, Kwai Chung, for $505 million. Independent shareholders will vote on the sale on Tuesday, but the letter signed by the ''small shareholders'' says this will be a ''rubber stamping exercise'' because the Ng, Yu and Louey families have substantial holdings and are represented on the board which approved the sale, and are therefore likely to vote in favour. A representative of SHKP said yesterday: ''These people [the three families] are very experienced in property development, so they know the property market very well. People can't say they are being cheated by SHKP. ''They hold a large number of shares in KMB. How could they do a transaction against their own personal interest?'' Mr Ho responded to a report that the Kwun Tong site could be changed from industrial to commercial use by saying that even if this was true, a further land premium would have to be paid to the Government and the land value would be unaffected. He said the Kwun Tong site had no sea view and was not near an MTR station, and the price seemed ''quite reasonable'', adding that land prices were not rising fast in the area as 10 million sq ft of industrial space would become available in the next three years. SHKP will not take part in the shareholder vote. KMB had intended to develop the two sites itself, but decided it would be too costly. It says ''the majority of the proceeds from the sale of properties will be distributed to shareholders''.