As the Hong Kong property market stalls under the pressure of five months of protests, the Asian financial hub’s economic storm has become hunting season as the city’s “Shop King” makes his second opportunistic purchase in three months.
Tang Shing-bor, known to Hong Kong’s real estate community as Uncle Bor, has reportedly snapped up a set of retail units in Kowloon’s Mount Sterling Mall for HK$300 million, according to a report in the Hong Kong Economic Times.
The acquisition comes after five months of protests have slowed business for the city’s shopkeepers with sales receipts for September — the most recent figures available — dropping 18.3 percent compared with the same month last year.
Selling Up As MGM Turns Up the Heat
According to the HKET, Tang is buying the retail units from the chairman of online TV channel HKBC, Thomas Cheung, who is also the son-in-law of Grace Foo, matriarch of property developer Soundwill Holdings.
Cheung, who has had a string of businesses under his name including Evergreen Solar and Chinagrowth Infrastructure, is currently being sued by MGM Macau for failing to repay a gambling debt of HK$4.6 million.
The operator of the 600-room casino took legal action against Cheung after the Hong Kong entrepreneur racked up debts of HK$5 million, as of December last year, playing the tables. Cheung later made payments to reduce those debts to HK$4.46 million.
Unfortunately for Cheung, a lawsuit filed by MGM last month alleges that a cheque from the media boss in the amount of HK$4.46 million bounced on 6 September this year, according to local media.
Uncle Bor Strikes Again
Cheung’s difficulties spell opportunity for Tang to add shops in a community mall within the Mei Foo Sun Chuen housing complex to his collection. The public housing estate, which houses 80,000 people within its 99 towers is one of the largest residential developments in Hong Kong,
The veteran investor reportedly acquired a 5,367 square foot (499 square metre) ground floor unit in Mount Sterling Mall, as well as a contiguous 22,033 square foot set of first floor units in the two-storey shopping centre.
The full set of units are currently leased to local Chinese restaurant chain Paramount Joy Cuisine for a combined rent said to be approximately HK$850,000 per month, providing Tang with an initial rental yield of around 3.4 percent on his new investment, according to the HKET.
Cheung had purchased the property for HK$54 million in 2005 through his company Imperia Capital Investment Holdings, providing him with a book gain of HK$236 million.
Shop King Continues to Spend
Uncle Bor has pounced on Cheung’s misfortune despite five months of protests that have taken the heat out of the property market, picking up his second acquisition since August.
In the earlier transaction, Tang had entered into a sale and purchase agreement with a joint venture between Hanison Construction Holdings and a fund managed by China Merchants Capital to buy a Kwai Chung industrial building for HK$1.1 billion.
Tang Shing-bor’s son, Stan Tang, who is the founder of Stan Group – which manages a property portfolio from within the elder Tang’s collection – has also been active during this year’s slowdown.
Just last week, Stan Group applied for a compulsory sale of a 50-year-old industrial building in Hong Kong’s Mongkok district after the company had taken its ownership of the property above the 80 percent threshold necessary to apply for a buyout of the other unit holders in the aging structure.