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Property News Weekly Digest
〈Asian Post, April 10, 2021〉International companies are moving back to the business district of Central, where rents are down by a quarter from two years ago, giving organisations the opportunity to get an address in the city’s trophy buildings.

Standard & Poor’s is relocating to Three Exchange Square in Connaught Place from ICC in West Kowloon later this year, a spokesman for the credit-rating agency said.

Better rental packages have also convinced the likes of private equity company FountainVest Partners to move from Three Garden Road, between Admiralty and Central, to IFC, one of the most iconic buildings on Hong Kong island.

FountainVest leased 9,000 square feet at HK$130 per square foot, about 7 per cent lower than the rents a year ago, according to property consultancy Colliers. FountainVest could not be immediately reached for comment.

US investment firm Susquehanna International Group is also leaving Three Garden Road to move to AIA Central, the building known for its resemblance to a Chinese junk boat "with a significant cost savings".

〈Asian Post, April 9, 2021〉Some 515,000 people are estimated to have HK$10 million each in total assets last year even as the city records its worst recession, survey shows

The number of multimillionaires in Hong Kong hit a record high in 2020, despite the city experiencing its worst recession because of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the results of a survey released by Citibank yesterday.

As many as 515,000 people were estimated to have HK$10 million each in total assets last year, up from 413,000 in 2019, according to Citibank’s Hong Kong Affluent Study 2020, conducted between November last year and January this year.

A multimillionaire is defined by the bank as someone who has more than HK$10 million in total net assets and at least HK$1 million in liquid assets.

"The population of Hong Kong multimillionaires continues to grow unabated during the pandemic, and has even set a record high," said Josephine Lee Kwai-chong, Citibank Hong Kong’s head of retail banking.

"Even with the outbreak of the pandemic, governments around the world have taken measures to save [their economies] and stabilise the financial markets. As a result, many investment instruments, including stocks, bonds and foreign currencies, have appreciated in value in 2020 and generated gains for investors."

〈The Standard, April 8, 2021〉Manulife Hong Kong said it has rented 145,000 square feet of Grade A office space at the International Trade Tower in the International Trade Tower in Kowloon East for HK$4.06 million per month, the largest Grade A office leasing deal in the city since July 2019 in terms of net floor area.

Local media reports said the per-sq-foot rent reached HK$28.

The lease is part of Manulife's plan to accelerate agency expansion, said Damien Green, chief executive of Manulife Hong Kong and Macau.

The ITT will become Manulife's fourth Grade A office in Kowloon East. Manulife Hong Kong has been based in the Manulife Financial Centre since 2009. It acquired the Manulife Tower in 2013 and expanded its agency offices to The Quayside in 2020.

Manulife is expanding at a time when foreign companies are relinquishing space in the city's famously pricey office market to cut costs with work-from-home arrangements gaining traction, amid growing concerns that Hong Kong's appeal as a global financial hub is starting to fade due to Beijing's crackdown.

〈China Daily, April 7, 2021〉Property developer Country Garden is looking beyond its core real estate operations to power growth as mainland regulators tighten the screws on the highly leveraged sector.

The company is betting on its catering robot business – Qianxi Robotics Group – with the aim of turning it into the world's largest intelligent catering group. And it aims to take it public when the timing is right.

Qianxi currently operates 80 robot restaurants in nine cities in the Greater Bay Area, offering Chinese cuisine, fast food, hotpots, claypot rice and noodles.

It also carries out upgrading and retooling of traditional canteens at companies and government-run facilities, using some of its 500-plus robots in hotels, commercial centres and hospitals in the bay area.

"We certainly will go public … which can benefit us in financing and gaining more recognition from the market," said Xiao Ran, deputy general manager of Qianxi Robotics Group, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Foshan-based Country Garden.

〈China Daily, April 6, 2021〉A streak of sell-out weekends ended on Sunday when three developers managed to sell only a fraction of 148 flats on offer It is difficult to attract new buyers 'as most are waiting for big new projects to debut next month,' said Sammy Po of Midland Realty

A streak of sell-out weekends for residential property in Hong Kong ended yesterday when three developers managed to sell only 20 out of 148 flats between them.

Wheelock Properties and Sino Land had sold just 13 units as of 4.30pm at their Grand Victoria III development in Western Kowloon, sales agents said.

In Kai Tak, Wheelock Properties only found 5 buyers for the 50 units on offer at its Grande Monaco project, while Henderson'sCetus.Square Mileproject in Mong Kok sold three out of 20 flats.

"Most of the units sold ... are from inventory as all these three projects have been on the market for a while. It is difficult to attract too many new buyers as most are waiting for big new projects to debut next month," said Sammy Po, chief executive of Midland Realty's residential division.

The dismal results followed some brisk recent weekend sales, which saw Wheelock and Sino Land shift 202 flats, nearly 90 per cent of what was on offer in an earlier phase of their Grand Victoria project on March 13.