HONG KONG Nov 28 Asia's richest man, Li
Ka-shing, says his business has suffered its worst year in more
than a decade as measures to cool one of the world's most
expensive real estate markets take their toll on Hong Kong's
"We only recorded about HK$4 billion ($515.97 million) of
property sales for the entire year, merely 15 percent of the
total sales in between HK$26 billion to HK$27 billion during the
past two years," Li told the Guangzhou-based Southern Metropolis
Daily in an interview published on Thursday.
The billionaire octogenarian, who owns property company
Cheung Kong (Holdings) Ltd and ports-to-telecoms
conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa Ltd also sounded a note
of caution over soaring land prices in Hong Kong and mainland
"Land prices are high in Hong Kong, and (we) have seen an
unhealthy trend. Land prices in the mainland are soaring as well
and we can't win the bids either," he added.
Li has sold three major real estate assets in China so far
this year, with the recently announced sale of an office project
in Shanghai for $1.16 billion, sparking speculation that he is
retreating from the mainland property market.
In Hong Kong, the city's developers have been forced to
offer steep discounts to offset higher stamp duties imposed a
year ago to cool prices that have jumped 120 percent since 2008.
Cheung Kong, the city's second-largest property company by
market value, had achieved just 15 percent of its Hong Kong
contracted sales target of HK$30 billion with less than two
months before the end of the year, Credit Suisse property
analyst Joyce Kwock said in a recent note.
Major rival Sun Hung Kais Properties Ltd in
September posted a 14 percent fall in full-year underlying
profit for 2013, lagging forecasts and marking its first drop in
annual earnings due to slow sales in Hong Kong.
Deutsche Bank forecast last month that Hong Kong home prices
could drop up to 50 percent in the next 12 months, while
Barclays said the market will enter its first real downturn
since 1998 with a 30 percent plunge by 2015.
($1 = 7.7524 Hong Kong dollars)
(Reporting By Yimou Lee; Editing by Matt Driskill)