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03/11/2010 - Li Ka-Shing invests $979 million in Hong Kong property  03/11/2010 - Li Ka-Shing invests $979 million in Hong Kong property

The richest man in Hong Kong, Li Ka-Shing, has shown confidence in the real estate market by buying two residential sites at auction for more than the estimated price.  The news comes just four days after the Hong Kong government tightened restrictions on loans to prevent an increase in property prices.

Cheung Kong Holdings Ltd., operated by Li Ka-Shing bought the plots in Ho Man Tin District for $4.1 billion HKD ($530 million USD) and in Hung Hom District for $3.51 billion HKD ($451 million USD).

The auction followed a decision by the Hong Kong government to raise down payment ratios and further increase land supply to slow the dramatic prices increases seen since 2009.

Buggle Lau, chief analyst at Midland Holdings Ltd., Hong Kong’s largest publically traded real estate broker commented; “The prices reached show that the developer has a very high level of confidence in the residential market, particularly in sites in urban areas.”

Four of the seven analysts who surveyed the two plots cut their forecasts after the new government measures.  Estimates for the 394,000 square foot Ho Man Tin site ranged from HK$3.55 billion ($457 million USD) to HK$3.94 billion ($507 million USD).  The Hung Hom district with buildable area of 366,000 square feet was estimated to be sold for HK$2.2 billion ($283 million USD) to HK$2.9 billion ($373 million USD).

Victor Li, deputy chairman of Cheung Kong Holding Ltd., said; “The estimates didn’t take into account the views both sites offer, it’s extremely dangerous to use what we paid for the sites as an indicator of where property prices are going.”

The auction is the Hong Kong Governments fifth this financial year (starting from April 1st).  Further auctions are planned in a bid to slow increasing house prices with residential sites in the Chai Wan, Hung Hom and Fanling districts.

The next auction takes place on August 31st when the government will sell a residential plot in the Kowloon Tong district.

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