Hongkong Land sees robust demand for offices

Business as usual: People walking on a street during lunch hour in the Central district. Business hasn’t been affected by the introduction of the national security law or tightened quarantine rules. — Bloomberg

HONG KONG: The biggest landlord in Hong Kong’s most expensive office market expects demand to withstand concerns about political clampdowns and pandemic setbacks.

Hongkong Land Holdings Ltd said leasing demand is robust for its dozen interconnected office blocks in the heart of the city’s financial district known as Central, executive director Raymond Chow said in an interview with Bloomberg Television.

Business hasn’t been affected by the introduction of the national security law or tightened quarantine rules, Chow added.

“In reality we don’t see the leasing demand subsiding at all,” Chow said.

“What we see is a lot of corporates now are elevating and going back to quality.”

Hongkong Land’s optimism stands in contrast to the overall performance of the rental industry in Central.

The vacancy rate in the upscale district rose to 9.6% at the end of July from 5.7% a year ago, according to data from JLL.

Office rent prices in the area fell 3.3% in the first seven months of the year, JLL said.

Foreign banks have been downsizing in the past year due to hybrid workplace arrangements and cost-saving measures.

The government’s strict quarantine rules have also raised concerns from business groups that they’re threatening Hong Kong’s status as a global business hub.

Hong Kong’s office sector will remain a “tenant’s market” in the next 12 months, Rosanna Tang, head of research in Hong Kong for Colliers International, said on Bloomberg Television yesterday.

The firm forecasts a correction in office rents in 2021 before recovering from 2022 onward.

Hongkong Land’s office properties are among the most prestigious in the city with tenants including JPMorgan Chase & Co, KPMG and Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd.

To maintain its competitiveness in a slow market, the century-old company has been creating new services.

In an uncommon move, Hongkong Land recently opened a flexible working space to capture the demand for agile workplace leasing.

Going forward, it aims to offer health and wellness amenities to its tenants to match their changing lifestyle, according to Chow.

“In the office space now, there is a convergence of how people want to live and how people want to work,” said Chow.

“It’s almost a situation where you need to have these facilities in the ecosystem.” — Bloomberg

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