From cassettes, mini buses to the world’s priciest tower: a peek at Hong Kong’s buyers of The Center

Raymond Tsoi Chi-chung, David Chan Ping-chi, Ma Ah Mok, and Lo Man-tuen now own a combined 45 per cent of the world’s priciest office building.

PUBLISHED : Friday, 03 November, 2017, 8:18pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 May, 2018, 11:44am

A consortium called C.H.M.T Peaceful Development Asia Property agreed to pay tycoon Li Ka-shing a record HK$40.2 billion (US$5.15 billion) for The Center office block in Hong Kong, in what agents say is the world’s most expensive transaction for a single building.

The consortium, 55 per cent owned by a unit of the mainland’s state oil behemoth, is behind the purchase, with the remaining 45 per cent shared by four Hong Kong businessmen.

Who are the Hong Kong buyers?

The South China Morning Post spoke to three of the four investors.

Raymond Tsoi Chi-chung

Tsoi founded Asia Property Agency in 1990 in North Point, focusing on residential sales in the secondary market and also invests in commercial property.

His property investment began in 2014 with retail properties that were subdivided into small shops for resale, ranging from 30 square feet to 700 sq ft (65 square metres).

He diversified into offices last year, buying a 7,315 sq ft office floor at the Far East Consortium Building in Central for HK$108 million, and spent HK$45.7 million on 2,500 sq ft of the AXA Centre in Wan Chai, which he leased out.

“We have no plans to resell the space [at The Center],” said Tsoi on Thursday. “It is a rare product in Central.”

However, he believes he’s got his share of The Center at a bargain, and expects a massive return on his investment, because of a HK$50,000 per sq ft benchmark was set in May for the Murray Road car park site in Central.

“This building is completed and is just HK$33,000 per sq ft,” Tsoi said. “It is a good price for us.”

David Chan Ping-chi

Chan is the chairman of the ACME Group, founded in 1965. The company is one of the world’s biggest producers of cassette tapes, compact discs and DVDs for the audio-visual industry, earning Chan the name King of Cassettes.

Chan has invested billions of Hong Kong dollars in the city’s car parks, industrial buildings and retail property, either on his own or in partnership with his friend Raymond Tsoi. Chan owned a portfolio of as many as 2,000 car parking spaces at one point.

In March, he paid HK$33 million for 62 car park lots at Brilliant Garden in Tuen Mun, and resold 56 of them for HK$56 million in August – a HK$17 million gain in five months.

Ma Ah Mok

Ma Ah Mok, founder of Koon Wing Motors, operates Hong Kong’s largest fleet of 19-seat buses. Known as the King of the Minibus, the Ma family’s fleet of more than 640 minibuses ply 75 routes Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories. The fleet is valued at HK$3.8 billion.

Robert Ma Kiu-sang, the son of Koon Wing Motors’ founder, confirmed that his family is among the investors in C.H.M.T, but claimed they only held “a very small stake”.

“We are eyeing long term rental returns from the investment,” the younger Ma said, declining to elaborate. He also owns a portfolio of commercial properties valued at HK$10 billion.

Lo Man-tuen

Lo is founder and chairman of privately held Wing Li Group, which also produces cassette tapes, compact discs and DVDs for brands including Sony and JVC. He is a delegate to the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, the nation’s top political advisory body.

He is a member of Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong and owned several race horses between 1994 to 1995.

“There is no such thing at this stage, the majority of directors are saying that we would not sell it yet,” he said. “We have not even met yet.”

With additional reporting by Tony Cheung and Ng kang-chung