A four-star hotel in Hong Kong’s Tsim Sha Tsui district, which fell into receivership after its owner was tortured to death on the mainland has received an offer from an interested buyer, according to a report in the Hong Kong Economic Times.
An unnamed buyer is said to have offered HK$4.8 billion ($670 million) to purchase the 546 room Kimberley Hotel in the southern tip of the Kowloon peninsula — a price around 20 percent lower than the HK$6 billion that the assets custodians had been seeking.
Should the sale come through it would close the books on the highest profile asset of the late Stephen Lau Hei-wing, who died in March 2017 as mainland authorities attempted to torture the Fujian-born businessman into confessing to criminal charges in an interrogation centre near the North Korean border.
Tourist Hotel Could Sell for HK$8.8 Mil Per Room
Should the sale of the 1990 vintage hotel be completed, the hotel’s new owner would take possession of the 243,301 square foot (22,603 square metre) property in one of Hong Kong’s busiest tourist areas — less than half of a kilometre from the Tsim Sha Tsui MTR station and one kilometre from the waterfront.
At the reported price, the buyer would be paying the equivalent of HK$8.79 million each for the 21-storey hotel’s rooms, which vary in size from 220 square feet to 500 square feet, as well as taking possession of an underground retail arcade.
Lau, who made his fortune in the mainland garment industry, had purchased the Kimberley Hotel in 1995 for HK$1.9 billion.
Fujian Businessman Died in Custody
Before his untimely death, Lau had survived multiple encounters with the legal system in both Hong Kong and on the mainland, including being accused in 2016 of defrauding the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (Asia), the Hong Kong affiliate of the mainland’s largest commercial bank, of HK$200 million in loans. It was when Lau failed to appear at an April 2017 trial in Hong Kong that the story of his death in March of that year eventually emerged.
In October of 2018 nine mainland government prosecutors were jailed for terms of up to 15 years for their roles in Lau’s death, which occurred after he suffered bone fractures in seven places during a four day “interrogation.”
Following Lau’s death, his widow Liu Fangfei, a programme host at China Central Television, went to court to demand a solicitor be appointed as administrator of Lau’s estate so that the full value of the deceased businessman’s assets could be determined. That move by Liu came as creditors, including a Macau gaming company seeking payment of HK$380 million debts, competed for a slice of Lau’s estate.
Lau who had emigrated to Hong Kong from Fujian, was known as a close friend of the late Nina Wang Kung Yu-sum, who was once among Asia’s wealthiest people and led property developer Chinachem Group. Over a decade ago, Lau had reportedly played a role in the high-profile court dispute over the estate of Wang’s late husband, Teddy Wang The-huei and is said to have assisted Wang with business opportunities on the mainland.
The prospective deal for the Kimberley Hotel comes as Hong Kong’s hotel industry has been suffering the effects of anti-government protests. Bookings for China’s October Golden Week holiday left more than 70 percent of city hotel rooms empty according to local media reports.