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Property News Weekly Digest
〈Taipei Times, Sept 26, 2020〉China Evergrande Group facing crisis of confidence over US$120 billion debt

HIGHLY LEVERAGED: The company has expanded into sectors ranging from electric vehicles to hospitals and theme parks, areas that align with government priorities

China Evergrande Group is facing a crisis of confidence among its creditors, who have lent the world’s most indebted property developer more than US$120 billion.

Long-simmering doubts about the health of China’s biggest property company by revenue exploded to the fore on Thursday, following reports that it had warned local government officials of a potential cash crunch that could threaten China’s financial stability.

Investors yesterday dumped Evergrande’s bonds, sending its yuan note due in 2023 down as much as 28 percent to a record low.

〈The Standard, Sept 25, 2020〉Mahjong houses get with times

As the local epidemic situation eases, different kinds of entertainment establishments are resuming operations, including mahjong houses.

With myriad forms of gambling available these days, some might think mahjong houses - zhu guan - must have become obsolete. Yet, this line of business remains highly lucrative.

The trade has always kept a low profile. Leading operators, including several old-time shops in Mong Kok, seldom get into the news.

It has been reported that each of these shops could make over HK$10 million a year in their heyday in the 1960s and 1970s.

The operators bought property in the district as investments and never sell them, thus accumulating immense wealth.

Mahjong houses had seen depressed times, but they began to prosper again when mainland visitors started flocking to Hong Kong under the individual visit scheme.

The new customers from the north received VIP treatment at the shops, and are treated to expensive food like shark's fin and bird's nest soup as their spending rivals the amounts they shell out at Macau casinos. Industry sources said some mainland tycoons who are mahjong aficionados often play in seven or eight-figure sums each game.

〈Asian Post, Sept 25, 2020〉Hong Kong Disneyland's option to purchase a potential expansion site next to the park will not be extended, with government sources saying the land is to be used as a Covid-19 quarantine facility for at least a few years before a long-term purpose is determined.

While the Walt Disney Company said it was "extremely disappointed" in the decision, sources said it had been unable to commit to using the site in the near future. The option was due to expire today.

The 60-hectare plot in Penny's Bay on Lantau Island - the size of three Victoria Parks - was at one time eyed as a space where tens of thousands of temporary homes could be built for those on the waiting list for public housing.

Citing economic conditions, the government yesterday announced it had decided not to extend an option that would have allowed Hongkong International Theme Parks Limited (HKITP), a joint venture between itself and Disney, to purchase the site.

"The government considers it prudent for HKITP to focus on the development and expansion of the existing resort in the coming few years, rather than geographic expansion into a [new] site," a spokesman for the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau said in a statement.

A government source said there was no concrete plan for the land's use yet.

〈Asian Post, Sept 23, 2020〉There were nearly 504,000 multimillionaires in Hong Kong with net assets of HK$10 million or above as of May - up 22 percent from a year before - as investor confidence improved, according to a survey.

The total net asset value was calculated based on the respondents' estimation and the estimated values were affected by market sentiment and other situations, said Josephine Lee Kwai-chong, head of retail bank at Citibank Hong Kong, which commissioned the study.

Lee said supporting measures by governments to tackle the pandemic was one factor that helped improve investor confidence for the year.

"The number of multimillionaires goes up and down each year, but in the long term, it has been an upward trend," she added.

The Hong Kong Affluent Study 2019/2020 was conducted in two phases - the first from November to December 2019 and the second from March to May 2020. More than 3,500 residents aged 21 to 79 were randomly interviewed via telephone.

The median of net assets of multimillionaires was HK$17 million, up from HK$16.3 million in 2018.

〈The Standard, Sept 22, 2020〉More developers are launching new projects, with Chevalier International (0025) releasing the first price list of 50 units at Sablier in Tai Kok Tsui.

The average selling price is HK$20,934 per square foot after discounts for 23 studios and 27 one-bedroom flats ranging in size from 262 sq ft to 340 sq ft.

The developer is opening show flats for the project today and will launch sales by the end of September at the earliest.

Meanwhile, Swire Properties (1972) will launch the sale of 37 units at Eight Star Street in Wan Chai in the fourth quarter. The project has flats ranging from 430 sq ft to 910 sq ft.

Top Spring International (3688) and Chun Wo Development will also launch sales of 128 Waterloo in Ho Man Tin next month, offering 50 units in the first batch.

The project offers 110 one-bedroom to five-bedroom units ranging from 331 sq ft to 3,445 sq ft.

In the secondary market, the family Louisa Mak Ming-sze, winner of the 2015 Miss Hong Kong pageant, is asking for HK$2.88 million for a 141-sq-ft unit at T Plus in Tuen Mun.