Jack Ma buys most expensive home in HK from the Yuens

August 13, 2015 15:07
Francis Yuen (left) has sold a mansion at 22 Barker Road (inset) to Jack Ma for HK$1.5 billion. Photo: HKEJ

Desperate times, desperate deal.

We are talking not about Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation but the record-breaking HK$1.5 billion (US$190 million) that Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. chairman Jack Ma Yun paid for a house on the Peak.

Despite the share price of his United States-listed e-commerce flagship hitting a record low, reducing his net worth by over US$752 million, Ma wasn't deterred from buying the most expensive home in Hong Kong.

He paid about HK$151,653 per square foot for the 9,900 sq ft, three-story mansion at 22 Barker Road, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported.

The transaction dwarfed a record held by movie star Stephen Chow Sing-chi, who sold his Skyhigh on Pollock’s Path for HK$800 million, or HK$133,578 per sq ft, in June 2011.

Ma's is the second-most expensive mansion in the world by price per square foot.

A house on Saint Jean Cap Ferrat, a peninsula of land east of Nice, France, was sold at HK$175,000 per sq ft for a total of HK$1.13 billion, the Standard reported.

Still, the price of his home on the Peak is peanuts to Ma, who is still worth US$31.2 billion, or perhaps about 4 per cent less after the renminbi's devaluation.

With a 6.1 per cent stake in Alibaba, Ma is listed at No. 21 on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

But the deal gave former PCCW deputy chairman Francis Yuen Tin-fan and his wife, Hang Seng Bank chief executive Rose Lee Wai-mun, a lot to brag about.

The couple bought the house from the Belgian consul general in 2000 for HK$163.5 million after Yuen cashed out his stock options at the peak of the internet bubble for over HK$100 million when PCCW took over former telephone monopoly Cable & Wireless HKT.

They have now rung in a profit of HK$1.34 billion on top of a free 15-year stay in a home with possibly one of the best views in Hong Kong.

It boasts a 270-degree sea view of Victoria Harbour and a 20,000 sq ft private garden.

Last month, the couple bought a 5,199 sq ft home at Opus from Swire Properties for HK$375 million, or about HK$72,201 per sq ft.

The swap looks like a smart deal for the couple, who are now living in about half the space but pocketed more than HK$1 billion in turbulent times.

Swire Pacific disclosed that it made a paper loss of HK$10.77 million on the unit it sold to Lee, an independent non-executive director.

That was because Lee enjoyed a 7.5 per cent rebate, open to all, of HK$28.15 million.

Just as with any investment, your loss is my gain.

It will take time to see who will emerge as the winner in the blockbuster deal, but I probably wouldn't be able to stop laughing if I had a billion dollars added to my bank account.

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EJ Insight writer