Swire Properties in talks to sell Hong Kong towers for $1.8b

Hong Kong
Light displays sit on buildings on the city skyline ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping's arrival in Hong Kong, China, on Wednesday, June 28, 2017. Photographer: Anthony Kwan/Bloomberg

Swire Properties Ltd. is in talks to sell its stakes in two Hong Kong towers to Hengli Investments Holding Group for more than HK$14 billion ($1.8 billion), according to people familiar with the matter, adding to a spate of deals in the world’s priciest office market.

Hengli is in discussion with banks on getting financing for the purchase of the buildings, known as Cityplaza Three and Cityplaza Four, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information hasn’t been publicly disclosed. Hengli is a Hong Kong-based property investment firm linked to Chen Chang Wei, who is listed as a director of the company, according to regulatory filings.

Hong Kong commercial real estate has been on a tear, after a series of record-breaking purchases fueled by mainland Chinese and domestic investors. Two billionaire Chinese property developers earlier this year agreed to join a consortium to buy The Center from Li Ka-shing’s company for a record HK$40.2 billion. Henderson Land Development Co. last year agreed to pay HK$23.3 billion for the first commercial land to be sold by Hong Kong’s government in the Central district since 1996.

The two towers being sold house a mix of retail and offices in Taikoo Shing on Hong Kong Island. The sale, first flagged in May, suggests Swire Properties may consider Hong Kong property prices to be “toppish,” CLSA Ltd. analyst Nicole Wong wrote in a report at the time.

A person who answered the phone at Hengli Investments’s office in Hong Kong, who declined to identify herself, said she wasn’t aware of the information and wouldn’t transfer calls. A spokesperson for Swire Properties declined to comment.

Few public details have been released about Chen’s business activities since he sold control of a Hong Kong-listed company to Dalian Wanda Group in 2013. Hengli Investments in 2017 emerged as the buyer of Lloyds Banking Group Plc’s City of London headquarters.

Swire Properties shares have risen about 7.5 percent since the sale was first flagged May 10. The shares rose 0.2 percent as of 11:45 a.m. on Thursday.

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