MoF may have set year-end target for HK asset sale


PETALING JAYA: The Finance Ministry (MoF), in a meeting with local and foreign agents earlier this week, is believed to have set a year-end deadline for the sale of the Malaysian consulate building in Hong Kong, sources say.

The tender documents, or requests for proposals (RFPs), are to be submitted to the MoF not later than noon on July 9, a Hong Kong source said.

The source said the MoF would like “to formalise” or complete the sale of 50 Gloucester Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, by the last quarter, “possibly not later than November 2019”.

The MoF did not set a price, the source said.

The source said the RFP documents were offered only to estate agents who had attended a briefing session in Putrajaya.

Only those who have sufficient knowledge of the law relating to property and conveyancing in Hong Kong and who have a valid registration with the Hong Kong Estate Agents Authority throughout the tender and contract period, and whose firms have a subsidiary, associate or affiliate in Malaysia, came for the briefing session.

Malaysian agents who have a subsidiary, an associate or an affiliate in Hong Kong also attended the briefing, sources said.

“Only those who attended the briefing session were eligible to submit proposals,” an industry source said.

It is uncertain how many local and Hong Kong real estate firms attended the briefing.

Another source said although the price was not fixed, there was a “before or by November 2019” deadline, which suggests that the Malaysian government would like real estate agents based in Hong Kong and Malaysia “to get cracking” as soon as possible.

The source said the former British colony is currently a buyer’s market.

The property market moves in cycles, varying from trough to boom. It entered the buyer’s market when the US-China trade war erupted about a year ago.

Street demonstrations the last couple of weeks against a proposed bill that allows criminal suspects to be extradited to China have also affected the market, although there are mixed views whether the demonstrations – where the last one was rather violent with demonstrators storming the Hong Kong legislative building – had affected the market.

An industry source in Hong Kong said the situation needed time to settle.

The consulate is a 27-storey leasehold building. It is uncertain how many floors are occupied by the Malaysian consulate, a source said.

The 99-year lease expires in nine years, in 2028.

Sources said the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) government had first proposed to sell the building around 2016/2017.

The BN government had a price tag of RM1.1bil (about HK$2bil), while valuers tagged it at about HK$1.8bil (less than RM1bil) around 2016 and 2017, a source said.

On May 9 last year, the new Pakatan Harapan government was voted in but the proposed sale was still valid.

Over a period of between one and two years, both the previous and present governments were unable to find a buyer until the matter lapsed in November 2018, six months after the Pakatan Harapan government took over, a source said.

The present government had initially said it wanted to wrap up the deal at RM1.6bil (about HK$3bil).


   

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