Hong Kong’s high court has ordered Pan Sutong to wind up his holding firm and file for bankruptcy after the mainland tycoon failed to repay HK$8 billion ($1 billion) borrowed five years ago to finance the privatisation of his Goldin Properties Holdings.
The once-highflying Pan and the holding firm, Silver Starlight Ltd, had challenged the winding-up petition filed by China CITIC Bank and other creditors, arguing that the lenders had access to collateral used to secure the loan, which came due in December 2019. They also disputed the jurisdiction of the court to hear the case. However, the court was not persuaded.
“All the issues have been determined by the court against the company and Pan,” the presiding judge, Linda Chan, said in a decision handed down last Friday.
The case was heard in the lower court of the city’s high court. In a Chinese-language statement posted Saturday by Goldin Group, Pan said he planned to appeal to the upper court.
In his statement, Pan contends that the debt in question was mortgaged by a Tianjin project under mainland developer Goldin Properties as a full asset and that there was no insolvency. The unfinished project is the Goldin Metropolitan Central Business District and its centrepiece, the 128-storey Goldin Finance 117 skyscraper.
“However, China CITIC Bank pursued my responsibility as a guarantor without disposing of the collateral, violated the general debt processing process, and maliciously targeted me, which was very unfair to me,” Pan said. “At the same time, I deeply regret the court’s decision. My legal team is studying the judgement and is expected to appeal the judgement in a short time to protect my legitimate rights and interests. I am convinced that the final bankruptcy order will be revoked.”
In June, Pan resigned as chairman and executive director of HKEX-listed Goldin Financial Holdings after an attempted sale of the company’s trophy Hong Kong skyscraper to a mysterious businessman went off the rails.
Goldin had announced a provisional sale of the HK$10 billion ($1.27 billion) asset, Goldin Financial Global Centre, to Fong Tim at a HK$14.3 billion price point in October 2020. But in May of this year, Fong filed suit against the property’s receivers as they moved to relaunch a tender for the Kowloon East tower. Market sources said the sale and purchase agreement with Fong had been voided after a failure to make good on unspecified terms of the transaction.
With Pan having once been listed by Forbes as one of Asia’s richest men, Goldin has been struggling to liquidate assets for several years after taking on a series of grandiose projects.
In March of last year, Pan transferred the rights to a residential project in Ho Man Tin to Hong Kong-listed Great Eagle after his joint venture partner, MTR Corporation, had filed a breach-of-contract suit over the long-delayed development.
In 2020, Goldin sold a residential plot on Hong Kong’s former Kai Tak runway at a HK$2.6 billion loss after forfeiting a commercial site on the same strip just months earlier.
After its failure to file on-time audited results this year, the company saw its shares suspended from trading on the HKEX beginning on 1 April.