The Sun (Malaysia)

Asset managers to sell HK buildings as higher rates bite


HONG KONG: Asset managers are increasing­ly looking to dispose of their commercial buildings in Hong Kong as rising interest rates take a toll on mortgage payments, which for some have now exceeded rental income.

Some of the sales plans also come as mortgage loans are due to be refinanced, which is made more difficult when equity in the asset drops, people in credit and property markets said.

While Hong Kong reopened its borders this year after the pandemic, the recovery in the city’s commercial property sales and rental markets has been weaker than expected due to rising interest rates and a sluggish global and China economy.

Office prices have dropped over 30% since their peak in 2019 following anti-government protests and Covid19, with many internatio­nal firms scaling back or exiting the financial hub.

Average rents also dropped 34% and vacancy rates rose to 17.3% at the end of June, according to data from Cushman & Wakefield.

Sources said a few larger asset managers, eager for swift disposals, were starting to sell Hong Kong assets at discounted prices. KaiLong Group is putting two of its buildings – which both have loan facilities due this year – on the market with the deadline for non-binding bids later this month.

One asset is a new 25-storey Grade-A tower in the Central financial district, while the second is also a 25-storey commercial building with 41 parking spaces in nearby Wan Chai.

People with knowledge of the matter said KaiLong would like to fetch at least HK$1.5 billion (RM890 million) and HK$1.25 billion, respective­ly, for the sales. The asking price for the Wanchai asset was over 20% below market price, they added.

Ivan Ho, Hong Kong CEO of KaiLong, told Reuters the firm is not selling because of a “bad future” but rather through a “normal marketing exercise once assets are ready for sale.”

Realtors said there was little incentive for investors to hold on to buildings because assets had run into negative cash flow due to higher interest costs.

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