A top strategist from Li Ka-shing’s CK Asset has joined the board of defaulting developer Goldin Financial Holdings as rumours fly of buyouts and restructuring in Hong Kong’s real estate world.
Gerald Ma Lai-chee, an executive with 24 years of experience with the property business of Hong Kong’s richest man, was appointed as vice chairman of Goldin on Wednesday, just one day after the developer, which had its Kowloon Bay headquarters seized by creditors last week, announced that it was in the process of arranging HK$8.7 billion ($1.12 billion) in new funding.
Ma, who is an executive committee member and general manager at CK Asset, also serves as a non-executive director at Li Ka-shing-invested ARA Asset management and Fortune REIT.
While originally appointed as an independent, non-executive director on Goldin’s board on Wednesday, Ma was brought into Goldin’s operation on Thursday, the same day that his appointment took effect, as his independent status was removed, with the developer announcing to the stock exchange that the change would allow the CK veteran “to devote more time and involvement in the financial and restructuring affairs of the Company and its subsidiaries.”
Restructuring a Troubled Developer
“We will actively study Goldin’s financial and debt status,” CK Asset said in a statement, without specifying what assets might have potential resale value or commenting further on its involvement in Goldin’s anticipated restructuring.
In announcing Ma’s appointment on Wednesday, Goldin said that Li’s lieutenant, “will focus on providing financial and restructuring advice to the Company and its subsidiaries.” That advice might involve significant sales of assets, as Goldin is reported to be under pressure to repay nearly HK$10.3 billion in obligations being sought by its creditors in Hong Kong.
Last week Goldin chairman Pan Sutong appears to have pledged more than half of his 70.86 percent holding in the developer in an effort to raise cash, with a 28.18 percent slice transferred to ICBC Macau on behalf of an unspecified beneficiary.
In May of this year Goldin announced that it had agreed to sell a residential plot which it had purchased on Hong Kong’s former airport site at Kai Tak last year to an unnamed buyer for HK$7.04 billion. That disposal came after the company had purchased the 9,708 square metre site for HK$8.9 billion in November 2018.
Goldin’s commercial portfolio, which includes the 900,000 square foot Goldin Financial Global Centre, which was taken over by receivers appointed by Deutsche Bank last week, is already heavily financed and said to be of little interest to potential buyers.
Pan’s Personal Portfolio
Last week Pan took out second and third mortgages worth a total of HK$600 million on his mansion in Hong Kong’s Deep Water Bay area, which is located just a few doors down the road from the primary residence of Li Ka-shing and his son Victor.
Pan, who was ranked as Hong Kong’s 22nd richest man by Forbes in 2019, also personally owns a number of development projects or potential redevelopment sites in Hong Kong, including a pair of residential projects in the Ho Man Tin area of Kowloon.
Pan also owns the Oriental Daily News industrial building in the To Kwa Wan section of Kowloon Bay.