Ma vs. Ma: The most expensive house in Hong Kong belongs to one of China's internet kings - but is it Jack or Pony?
Has the corporate duel to be crowned the mainland's internet king spilled over into a race to own the most expensive home in Hong Kong?
Judging by these photographs of the secluded new residence of Tencent chief executive officer Pony Ma Huateng, it certainly looks that way.
The palatial redeveloped 19,600 sq ft property nestled in woodland between Shek O and Big Wave Bay - which was bought by Tencent's Ma for a comparatively cheap HK$480 million in 2009 - has risen to an almost completed, three-storey creation that when finished could fetch HK$1.8 billion at today's prices, according to property experts.
The estimated price tag tops that of the recent HK$1.5 billion purchase of a 9,890 sq ft, three-storey house on Barker Road, The Peak, by Alibaba's Jack Ma Yun. That property is presently Hong Kong's most expensive residence.
Pony Ma bought the 8,000 sq ft house - which can be seen only from the Dragon's Back Trail above Shek O - from former Wah Kwong Shipping chairman Geroge Chao for HK$480 million at the end of December 2009.
He later applied to redevelop it as a three-storey house with a saleable area of about 19,600 sq ft.
"The luxury house is definitely comparable to the Barker Road house in terms of its size and the view it captures," said Koh Keng-shing, chief executive and founder of Landscope Christie's International Real Estate.
He estimates the house's value at between HK$1.5 billion and HK$1.8 billion.
"I personally prefer the quiet, remote environment in Shek O, rather than the Peak," Koh said.
Thomas Lam, head of valuation and consultancy at Knight Frank real estate agency, estimates the Shek O house could fetch more than HK$60,000 per sq ft if it goes on the market now, bringing its total value to more than HK$1.2 billion.
But Lam said he believed the house would not be put on the market.
The two Mas of the mainland's internet industry are no strangers to Hong Kong's property market.
Last year, Pony Ma bought a two-storey house standing on an 8,000 sq ft plot of land on South Bay Road for HK$450 million from Ho Sai-chu, former lawmaker and permanent honorary chairman of the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce.
With a saleable area of about 7,294 sq ft, the transaction works out to about HK$65,122 per sq ft.
In 2007, Jack Ma bought a unit in the Mid-levels' Branksome Crest for about HK$283 million. The seller of the prized property on Barker Road was Francis Yuen Tin-fan, a former deputy chairman of PCCW and former chief executive of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing.
Yuen bought the 70-year-old house for HK$163.5 million in 2000. He spent about HK$50 million refurbishing it into a four-storey home on the 33,500 sq ft site.