Li Ka-shing predicts strong demand for Hong Kong property

Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing (C) arrives for the swearing-in ceremony of Hong Kong's new Chief Executive Carrie Lam at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in Hong Kong on July 1, 2017.(AFP/Anthony Wallace)

Hong Kong’s richest man signaled he sees no end in sight for the demand in property that’s been driving up prices in the world’s most expensive real estate market.

"Demand remains very strong," CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd.’s billionaire chairman Li Ka-shing said to reporters on Thursday before the start of the annual dinner for his group of companies. "I’m still building hotels and have bought shopping malls, getting rental income for the long term."

Home prices in Hong Kong rose about 14 percent last year even after the government pushed through new taxes and mortgage curbs. Li predicted at the same occasion last year that prices would rise "a little bit." There is no sign of cooling anytime soon as property consultancy Colliers International Group Inc. forecast that mass-market home prices will rise 8 percent to 10 percent this year.

Li has been selling property assets in recent years amid rising real estate prices. In November, his property arm CK Asset Holdings Ltd. announced the sale of a Hong Kong office tower for a record HK$40.2 billion. Another unit, Fortune Real Estate Investment Trust, is selling a Hong Kong shopping mall for HK$2 billion. SC Capital Partners, a $2.6 billion real estate private equity firm, said the city’s home prices are at unreasonable levels that can’t be sustained.

Shares of CK Hutchison rose 0.1 percent to HK$99.20 as of 10:48 a.m. in Hong Kong. The stock climbed 12 percent last year, lagging behind the 36 percent gain in the benchmark Hang Seng Index.

Li on Thursday reiterated that he would become a senior adviser of his companies should he retire. He also said he expects interest rates to rise once or twice this year. –Bloomberg

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