Sun Hung Kai shares edge lower after chairmen charged in bribery case

HONG KONG, July 16 Sun Jul 15, 2012 9:37pm EDT

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HONG KONG, July 16 (Reuters) - Shares in Asia's largest developer, Sun Hung Kai Properties, opened down 0.3 percent on Monday as they resumed trading after being suspended Friday when the billionaire brothers who run the company were charged with alleged bribery in one of the city's highest-profile corruption cases to date.

Thomas and Raymond Kwok, co-chairmen of the family run company, appeared in court to acknowledge the charges, which revolve around payments they allegedly made to Hong Kong's former No.2 public official, Rafael Hui.

Investors, frustrated at the lack of detail on the case while charges were pending, are now trying to factor in the impact on the company's business. Some had suggested charges would be positive since it would remove some of the uncertainty.

Andrew Lawrence of Barclays Capital said in a note on Monday that the likely prolonged trial and time necessary for the Kwok's defence means the company's two key decision makers will likely have limited time for company business.

Goldman Sachs has suspended its rating on the stock, saying there is not enough information in the charges to judge the economic scale of the developer's involvement.

The benchmark Hang Seng index opened up 0.7 percent, with other major Hong Kong property stocks in positive territory.

(Reporting by Alex Frew McMillan; Editing by Matt Driskill)

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