Hong Kong’s local investors are taking advantage of the city’s accelerating industrial market, with “Minibus King” Ma Ah-muk recording an en-bloc disposal of a Kwun Tong industrial building this month for HK$390 million ($50 million), or HK$6,657 per square foot.
Ma, the owner of Hong Kong’s largest minibus operator Koon Wing Motors, has sold multiple assets this year, with his sale of the Catic Building in the Kowloon East neighbourhood marking his third disposal in six months. The dispositions, including sales of a strata title office floor in Central and a Kowloon car park, add up to over HK$1.1 billion.
In this latest marked-down sale, the 90-year-old investor disposed of the en-bloc asset for 35 percent less than his asking price of HK$600 million when he first put the 58,585 square foot (5,443 square metre) property on the market two years ago. The buyer purchased the property through an offshore entity with the beneficiary owner remaining unidentified.
The veteran investor’s disposal of the 12-storey building followed an active third quarter for Hong Kong’s industrial sector, with investors making 17 acquisitions over HK$100 million in value during the period, representing more than HK$7.3 billion in value. That surge compared to 9 major deals amounting to just over HK$6 billion recording during the preceding three months.
Cashing in on Industrial
Located at 44 Tsun Yip Street, the Catic Building occupies a 5,530 square foot site less than a 2 kilometre (1.2 mile) stroll from the Kwun Tong MTR station, with Ma having purchased the building in 2006 for HK$86.6 million, according to the Hong Kong Economic Times. At the stated compensation, the Minibus King is achieving a 3.5 times increase in capital value in the sale.
Less than six months ago, news site HK01 reported that Ma and his sons had sold a four-storey car park in Mong Kok, a commercial area in Kowloon, to a mainland investor for HK$121.8 million after holding the asset since 2004.
Then last month the transport tycoon sold the 20th floor at the Center on Queen’s Road to a family member of former Hong Kong chief executive Tung Chee-Hwa for HK$630 million.
This month’s deal makes Ma the latest old school investor to turn to Hong Kong industrial market to raise cash, with the family of late “Shop King” Tang Shing-bor having sold the Elegance Printing Centre building in Shau Kei Wan to private equity giant Blackstone this month for HK$500 million.
The deal came three months after the Tang family sold the Mineron Centre in Fanling to China Resources Group for HK$695 million.
That sale came just two weeks after Stan Group, led by the shop king’s son Stan Tang, sold the East Asia Industrial Centre in the New Territories to China Resources Logistics for HK$2.24 billion.
Buying Skyscrapers Post-Peak
Ma’s 2021 sales surge comes around four years after his takeup of 13 floors at CK Asset’s 73-storey office tower, the Center, for an estimated HK$11 billion.
Amid the pre-protest, pre-pandemic market peak, Ma had bet on flipping his portion of the building, which was acquired through a consortium acquisition of the Queen’s Road landmark in 2017 for a record HK$40.2 billion.
By November of 2019, Ma was already rushing to raise cash, including selling a property at 37 Cameron Road in Kowloon to Kailong for a reported HK$448 million, with that compensation representing a 30 percent reduction from his target price for the Tsim Sha Tsui asset just six months earlier.