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Property News Weekly Digest
〈Asian Post, March 20, 2021〉CK Hutchison down 27pc, while CK Asset suffers 32.5pc decline as a result of disruptions caused by coronavirus pandemic on range of operations

CK Hutchison Holdings and CK Asset Holdings, the listed flagships of Li Ka-shing, reported sharply lower annual profits as economic disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic took a toll on their retail, ports, hotel and property operations.

CK Hutchison, the conglomerate with businesses ranging from container ports, retailing to telecommunications and energy, said net profit fell 27 per cent to HK$29.1 billion for 2020. It was the first profit decline since its restructuring in 2015, as Europe, from where it derived 78 per cent of its operating profit last year, saw steep economic decline.

However, the profit was in line with the HK$29.4 billion consensus estimate by 10 analysts polled by Bloomberg. Revenue fell 8 per cent to HK$403.8 billion, a second consecutive annual decline.

"[As] CK Hutchison's cash flows are very good with a low debt leverage, we will certainly seek investment opportunities, especially businesses with stable cash flows," Victor Li Tzar-kuoi, CK Hutchison's chairman and the eldest son of Li Ka-shing, said yesterday.

〈The Standard, March 19, 2021〉Developers are rushing to release new residential projects as the low-interest-rate environment - which is expected to continue in the aftermath of the US Federal Reserve meeting - could keep heating up the housing market, overshadowing fears of a fresh wave of Covid-19 infections in Hong Kong.

Swire Properties (1972) put 30 flats in the first price list for its Eight Star Street in Wan Chai at an average price of HK$36,936 per square foot after discounts, the most expensive first price list among new projects on Hong Kong Island.

The units, measuring 431 to 913 sq ft, are offered at HK$15.51 million to HK$41.93 million, or HK$33,006 per sq ft to HK$45,926 per sq ft, after discounts.

In Tsing Yi, Wang On Properties (1243) named its project at 8 Liu To Road The Met Azure. It is offering 320 units and is expected to launch in the second quarter.

In Tuen Mun, Hong Kong Ferry (0050) and Empire Group sold a 205-sq-ft unit at Skypoint Royale for HK$4.88 million, or HK$23,808 per sq ft.

Meanwhile, the Buildings Department approved 17 plans in January, with five on the island, six in Kowloon and six in the New Territories.

〈China Daily, March 18, 2021〉UK house seekers to face duty increase

Surcharge on purchases by foreigners starts on April 1, but HK buyers can still take advantage of certain stamp duty extensions until June 30

Hongkongers wishing to buy residential property in Britain are facing a double headache on investment costs in the coming days as a new surcharge comes into effect, while sustained demand has pushed house prices to fresh highs.

The British government will impose a new 2 per cent surcharge on foreigners acquiring property in England and Northern Ireland as planned on April 1.

Even so, stamp duty that was cut to zero in July on some houses, will be extended to June 30. This adds urgency for Hongkongers who may be seeking to emigrate amid a clampdown on political dissent in the city.

At the same time, British home prices have risen to new heights, worsening affordability among locals, amid a big push in the vaccination programme.

〈China Daily, March 17, 2021〉A mainland Chinese bank ran into howls of protest for offering unsecured loans to buy cemetery plots and suggesting that the debt burden be left to the children and grandchildren of the deceased.

Members of the public, and even state media, reacted vehemently to the "graveyard mortgage plan" jointly proposed by a local bank and a cemetery management company in Kunming, the capital city of southern Yunnan province.

In a country where a small patch of cemetery land can cost as much as 300,000 yuan (US$46,150), a final resting place for the dead has become more expensive than apartments for the living.

Local media found in an investigation that in neighboring Guangdong province, prices for a plot ranged from 10,000 yuan to 300,000 yuan in Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Zhuhai in the Delta River area.

〈Asian Post, March 16, 2021〉Guangdong and Macao organized forum on Mainland real estate laws Joint prevention mechanism safeguard Macao consumers’ rights in purchasing properties.

In response to the call of World Consumer Rights Day to pay attention to consumer rights and to enrich Macao consumers' knowledge in laws regarding real estates in the Mainland, Guangdong Consumers Council, Macao Consumer Council and the Economic and Technological Development Bureau (DSEDT) organized "Forum on Guangdong and Macao Real Estate Consumer Rights Protection" on 14 March in Macao. Consumers are suggested to use the information available through the "Joint prevention mechanism for Macao citizens purchasing real estate in the Mainland" to make careful decision.

"Joint prevention mechanism" to cover Greater Bay Area Wong Hon Neng, President of the Executive Committee of the Consumer Council indicated that with the development of integrated consumption within the Greater Bay Area, the number of Macao citizens purchasing real estate in the Area is increasing.

As laws and regulations in Macao are different from those in the Mainland and differences exist in practices among cities in the Greater Bay Area, consumers organizations in the Area strengthened their exchange and cooperation and introduced proper consumer protection measures to avoid consumer disputes and risks that may arise due to insufficient knowledge of Macao consumers regarding regulations of purchasing real estate in the Mainland.