Malaysian billionaire Robert Kuok has always been keen on developing TV City in Clear Water Bay into a luxury property project.
Kuok’s SCMP Group owned part of the land plot and was planning to join hands with his good friend Siu Yat-fu, founder of Shaw Brothers Studio and TVB, who owned the adjacent lot, the former site of Shaw Studios.
But the plan was shelved when the property market tanked in 1998. The two sites have been idle since then.
Two years ago, mainland tycoon Guo Guangchang, founder of Fosun International (00656.HK), also started setting his sights on the land plot.
In 2014, Fosun paid HK$1.5 billion for the 630,000 square foot site owned by Shaw Brothers Studio.
Fosun soon got the permission to redevelop it into a high-end residential project.
However, Shaw Studios was named a Grade 1 historical site by the Antiquities Advisory Board in February 2015.
Fosun swiftly revoked its application for demolition and said it would discuss with the government about the preservation plans.
Meanwhile, there have been some changes on Kuok’s side, too.
Kuok sold the media business of SCMP in late 2015, and the rest of the group, consisting largely of property assets, was renamed Armada Holdings Ltd. (00583.HK).
Last month, Armada was sold to mainland investment house Great Wall Pan Asia.
Kuok then made a bid of HK$930 million to buy back the TV City plot.
But last Tuesday Fosun’s Guo snapped up the land plot by offering HK$990 million.
That means Guo can successfully assemble the two pieces of land into one to accommodate a huge, multibillion-dollar project, something Kuok has always wanted to do but would now have to give up totally.
Guo has apparently won the land bidding battle. He also has the work cut out for him.
Apart from the land premium negotiation, Fosun also has to deal with activists seeking to preserve the historical heritage, a delicate and complicated issue even for a local developer.
Guo, 49, is among a crop of mainland developers who have been aggressively investing in Hong Kong in recent years.
Interestingly, Kuok is also expanding his property business in China. Last month his company acquired a 19 percent stake in a land plot in Shanghai’s Pudong district.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Sept. 8.
Translation by Julie Zhu with additional reporting
[Chinese version 中文版]
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