New chap­ter for sto­ried de­vel­oper

Hong Kong de­vel­oper Bonds Group is fo­cus­ing on more offff­shore projects, its chair­man An­son Chan tells Duan Ting.

China Daily (Canada) - - HONG KONG -

One of Hong Kong’s long-es­tab­lished prop­erty in­vest­ment firms, Bonds Group of Com­pa­nies, is ex­pand­ing its busi­ness to­wards more multi-na­tional in­vest­ment, says Hong Kong prop­erty busi­ness­man, chair­man and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer An­son Chan Yiu-che­ung.

The group was founded in the 1960s by his par­ents, Seaker Chan Shu-kui and Anita Chan Lai-ling — both phi­lan­thropists and ed­u­ca­tors. The era is con­sid­ered a ma­jor step­ping stone eco­nom­i­cally, and was a turn­ing point for Hong Kong as it was cat­e­go­rized as one of the “Four Asian Tigers”, join­ing Sin­ga­pore, South Korea, and Tai­wan. Large lo­cal prop­erty com­pa­nies were mostly es­tab­lished dur­ing the pe­riod.

In the late 1940s, Seaker Chan left Guang­dong for Hong Kong and soon had in­ter­ests in busi­ness, school build­ings and so­cial wel­fare. An­son Chan’s par­ents founded the group and un­der their man­age­ment, mostly by his mother as his fa­ther passed away in 1973, the com­pany fo­cused on buy­ing prop­er­ties and leas­ing them out for longterm rental re­turns.

But since Chan took over the reins in 2008, he has been ac­tively ex­pand­ing into prop­erty de­vel­op­ment and in­vest­ment, as well as fi­nan­cial merg­ers and ac­qui­si­tions.

The com­pany owns com­mer­cial and res­i­den­tial prop­er­ties and ho­tels through­out prime lo­ca­tions in Hong Kong, the Chi­nese main­land, Tai­wan, Canada, the US, the UK and South­east Asia with to­tal as­sets of more than HK$10 bil­lion.

In terms of its busi­ness strat­egy, Chan says the com­pany will con­tinue to de­velop projects in Hong Kong and keep the head of­fice in the city for its sound le­gal and fi­nan­cial sys­tem. But there will be a stronger fo­cus on de­vel­op­ing more over­seas projects, rather than putting all their eggs in one bas­ket, he says.

The com­pany has a num­ber of lo­cal projects un­der­way, in­clud­ing a joint ven­ture with Hong Kong’s Ur­ban Re­newal Au­thor­ity, lo­cated on Chi Kiang Street and Ha He­ung Road. It is in close prox­im­ity to a sta­tion on the Shatin to Cen­tral MTR line cur­rently un­der con­struc­tion, and should be com­pleted by mid-2017.

Over­seas, Bonds is in the midst of con­struct­ing the land­mark Tate Down­town project in Van­cou­ver, Canada. The for­mer six-story of­fice build­ing is be­ing trans­formed into res­i­den­tial high-rise build­ing with 40-sto­ries and 320 suites, with 98 per­cent al­ready sold.

The group also owns a largescale re­sort ho­tel and con­fer­ence cen­ter in Sun Moon Lake, Tai­wan as part of a 50-year joint ven­ture with the Tai­wan Tourism Bu­reau. On the Chi­nese main­land, the group owns and op­er­ates a ma­jor ser­viced apart­ment build­ing in Bei­jing’s CBD dis­trict.

The com­pany has also re­cently en­tered into fi­nan­cial merg­ers and ac­qui­si­tions, in­tend­ing to buy bad as­set pack­ets from the Chi­nese main­land.

As the in­her­i­tor of the fam­ily busi­ness, Chan says he en­deav­ors to carry the busi­ness and honor of the fam­ily for­ward, by adopt­ing the man­age­ment and in­vest­ment ex­pe­ri­ence he has ac­cu­mu­lated from work­ing in fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions for sev­eral years.

He says en­trepreneurs should have the spirit of “Yu Gong Yi Shan”, which in­di­cates the faith to move moun­tains, and aims to lead the fam­ily busi­ness to be­com­ing more in­ter­na­tional.

Chan says due to the Chi­nese main­land econ­omy los­ing trac­tion, fewer vis­i­tors from the Chi­nese main­land and the Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil elec­tion re­sults, the cur­rent busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment in Hong Kong is not ideal and the de­vel­op­ment prospects of the city are un­cer­tain.

Chan points out as the real es­tate sec­tor con­trib­utes to about 30 to 40 per­cent of the lo­cal GDP, the econ­omy won’t im­prove if the in­dus­try is slug­gish. He says the prop­erty tax pol­icy im­posed by lo­cal gov­ern­ment re­duces the trad­ing vol­umes of prop­er­ties and im­pacts de­vel­op­ers such as Bonds, but it has lit­tle ef­fect on hous­ing prices.

Three sets of puni­tive taxes were in­tro­duced by the Hong Kong gov­ern­ment since 2012: buyer’s stamp duty, spe­cial stamp duty and dou­ble stamp duty. This was to rein in spec­u­la­tion and dis­cour­age for­eign and cor­po­rate buy­ers from push­ing up prices.

“The gov­ern­ment is in a dilemma state”, Chan says with a strained smile, ex­plain­ing that half of Hong Kong peo­ple own prop­er­ties, and it is dif­fi­cult for the gov­ern­ment to bal­ance ev­ery­one’s in­ter­ests.

“But it re­ally de­pends on the gov­ern­ment’s pol­icy to push the eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment in Hong Kong … cur­rently a lot of pol­icy ini­tia­tives in the busi­ness sec­tor are stuck in the Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil and un­able to pro­ceed fur­ther.”

He also says the gov­ern­ment should re­view the Hong Kong dol­lar, which is cur­rently pegged to the US dol­lar. Depeg­ging of the cur­rency might be an­other way to reg­u­late and ad­just hous­ing mar­ket, says Chan.

Chan says he prefers lo­ca­tions where the busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment is friendly. He is op­ti­mistic about in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties in Canada and Sin­ga­pore, where there are many Chi­nese peo­ple, as well as Lon­don after Bri­tain’s vote to leave the Eu­ro­pean Union. How­ever, he is con­cerned about Aus­tralia and Tai­wan where gov­ern­ments have tight­ened poli­cies in the prop­erty in­vest­ment sec­tor.

On the Chi­nese main­land, Chan fa­vors first-tier cities like Bei­jing and Shang­hai as the poli­cies and op­er­a­tions are more stan­dard­ized and sim­i­lar to Hong Kong’s, while it re­quires more re­search and a deeper un­der­stand­ing of the lo­cal en­vi­ron­ment if in­vest­ing in lower-tier cities.

Con­tact the writer at tingduan@chi­nadai­lyhk. com

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