Wheelock Properties

Hong Kong’s ‘King of Shops’ Edwin Leong adds Asia’s priciest apartments to his portfolio

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 November, 2016, 7:34pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 July, 2017, 8:25am

Edwin Leong Siu-hung, the founder of Tai Hung Fai Enterprise and Hong Kong’s 17th-wealthiest businessman of 2016, has been confirmed as the buyer of Asia’s most expensive residential property.

Leong and a family member paid a total of HK$1.22 billion (US$157.3 million) for three units of the exclusive Mount Nicholson apartments at The Peak on November 8.

Leong bought a 4,566 sq ft unit on the seventh floor for HK$312 million, or HK$68,481 per square foot, while a relative bought two adjoining units on the 16th floor with a combined floor area of 8,702 sq ft for HK$912 million. At HK$104,803 per square foot, this sets the record as the most expensive apartment in Asia.

“I fell in love with the property at first sight,” Leong told the South China Morning Post by phone. “I visited Mount Nicholson five times and only won the tender on the third attempt.”

Leong, 64, is a property developer with more than 1,000 shops, industrial units, offices, parking lots, hotels and serviced apartments in his portfolio.

With his net worth estimated at US$3.9 billion, Leong said the record price he had paid for Mount Nicholson meant the rental yield was likely to be less than 1 per cent. He and his relatives would move into the apartments after a year of renovations, he said, declining to identify his relatives.

The adjoining units, 16A and B, were sold in one contract, according to the Hong Kong government’s website, which means the Inland Revenue Department will regard the sales as a single transaction, not liable to the government’s 15 per cent stamp duty imposed on November 5.

The buyer had not had any other property under his name, subjecting him to a stamp duty of 4.25 per cent, or HK$38.76 million. Leong’s single unit on the seventh floor was liable for HK$13.26 million in stamp duty.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying doubled the city’s stamp duty for second-time buyers to cool the real estate market and control runaway prices. However, a loophole exists in the regulations for buyers who group their purchases in a single agreement because the tax department’s assessment is based on contracts, not the number of units.

Leong and his relative avoided having to fork out an extra HK$132.5 million in levies.

Leong, who founded Tai Hung Fai in 1977, has been dubbed the “king of shops” because of his success in investing in retail property.

He owns some of the most prominent investment projects in Hong Kong, including the HK$1 billion Hotel Indigo Hong Kong in Wan Chai, the Kadoorie Lookout apartments in Ho Man Tin and the Kowloon Building offices in Yau Ma Tei, which he bought for HK$1.68 billion from Henderson Land Development.

Leong is the sixth son of Henry Leong, a comprador of British trading house Jardine Matheson.

After his father died when Leong was nine years old, he went on to build a fortune of his own. His investment firm Tai Hung Fai specialises in residential, commercial and industrial properties.

His foreign partners include Oakwood, an apartment rental company in Los Angeles, Thailand-based Onyx Hospitality Group and InterContinental Hotels Group. His Tai Hung Fai Charitable Foundation focuses on ways to help needy children and the elderly.

Phases one and two of Mount Nicholson, built by Wheelock & Co and Nan Fung Development, comprise 24 apartment units and 19 houses, counting some of Hong Kong’s wealthiest families among its owners. The third phase has yet to be developed.

Alice Ho Chiu-yan, daughter of Macau gaming tycoon Stanley Ho Hung-sun, paid HK$646 million for two adjoining units on the ninth floor, according to the Land Registry’s data. Her sister Sabrina Ho Chiu-yeng paid two other adjoining units on the 10th floor for HK$644.6 million.

“It’s definitely an iconic building on The Peak, which is a favourite address among Hong Kong’s richest families,” said Thomas Lam, senior director at Knight Frank. “New supply in such a prestigious area is extremely rare.”