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Saturday, December 26, 2015

Hong Kong billionaire Joseph Lau sets 2 records in 24 hours: diamonds, property

Hong Kong apartment sells for record $76.7 mn AFP AFP – Fri, Dec 25, 2015 6:40 AM AEDT . Property prices in Hong Kong, famous for its sky-high rent and super-rich tycoons, have more than doubled in 6 years due to record low interest rates and a flood of wealthy buyers from mainland China A luxury apartment in Hong Kong sold for a record HK$594.7 million ($76.7 million), days before Christmas, making it the most expensive flat in the city and possibly in Asia, reports said Friday. An unidentified buyer paid more than HK$103,700 per-square-foot for the 5,732 square-foot (532 square-metre) unit at the luxury 39 Conduit Road apartment tower in the southern Chinese city's upmarket Mid-Levels residential area, The Apple Daily and The Standard reported. The condominium, on the 46th floor with a view of the iconic Victoria Harbour and a 1,754 square-feet rooftop, had a list price of HK$646.48 million on developer Henderson Land Properties' website. The price beats the previous record HK$470 million paid for a luxury unit which takes up the entire eighth floor of the Opus Hong Kong, a 12-storey residential building designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Frank Gehry, in 2012. Henderson Land was not available for comment Friday, a public holiday. This comes as analysts said a US interest rate hike could put an end to the housing boom in the Chinese city which maintains a decades old peg with the US dollar. Hong Kong-based brokerage CLSA warned the residential market was at a "turning point", with prices possibly dropping 17 percent by 2017, while other firms have tipped falls of up to 30 percent. Hong Kong's de facto central bank last Thursday raised its base interest rate by 25 points to 0.75 percent after the US Federal Reserve announced its first rate increase in more than nine years. But chief analyst for Midland Realty Buggle Lau said the record-breaking purchase does not reflect the bigger picture of the overall property market in the city. "The super-rich, I don't think the small increase in the interest rates have any impact on their purchasing power," Lau said. "This is exceptional, it can't reflect the whole market," which he described overall as "sluggish". Property prices in Hong Kong, famous for its sky-high rent and super-rich tycoons, have more than doubled in six years due to record low interest rates and a flood of wealthy buyers from mainland China. Many residents complain they can no longer afford decent accommodation in the city of seven million people, and analysts say property ownership is out of reach even for the upper middle class. =================================================================================== Date November 13, 2015 Read later Frederik Balfour Joseph Lau, 64, made his fortune in real estate. Photo: Gcmt Pure coincidence or impeccable timing? Either way, Hong Kong billionaire Joseph Lau has just pulled off a twofer for the history books. On Wednesday night he paid 48.6 million Swiss francs ($67.92 million) at Sotheby's in Geneva for a 12.03-carat blue diamond, the most ever spent on a gem at auction. Then, less than 24 hours later, his company Chinese Estates Holdings Ltd sold an office tower in Hong Kong for $HK12.5 billion ($2.25 billion), more than twice the previous record for a commercial sale. Mr Lau, 64, who made his fortune in real estate, has been on a buying spree, collecting paintings from blue-chip artists as well as jewellery. He also generated headlines last year when he was convicted in Macau for bribery and money laundering in a trial he didn't attend. He's appealing the conviction. Mr Lau's company sold the 26-storey Mass Mutual Tower in Hong Kong's Wan Chai district to Chinese developer Evergrande Real Estate Group Ltd. Chinese Estates paid HK$460 million for the tower when it bought part of it in 1987 and the rest in 1991, yielding a 27-fold return. Advertisement It was the company's third property sale to Evergrande this year, said Chinese Estates spokeswoman Eunice Yeung. In July, it sold a residential, commercial and hotel complex in the western Chinese city of Chengdu for HK$6.5 billion. The company sold another property in nearby Chongqing for HK$1.75 billion. The previous most-expensive transaction for an office tower in Hong Kong was the HK$5.4 billion paid by Citigroup Inc. to a unit of Wheelock & Co. in 2014. Lichtenstein painting Mr Lau has also been busy on the auction circuit this year. On May 12 he picked up Roy Lichtenstein's painting "The Ring (Engagement)" at Sotheby's New York auction for $41.7 million, just a day after purchasing Pablo Picasso's "Buste de femme" across town at Christie's for $67.4 million. Unlike Liu Yiqian, a Chinese billionaire collector who this week bought an Amedeo Modigliani nude for $170.4 million and pays for his purchases using his AMEX card, Mr Lau wired the money to the two auction houses in New York, according to copies of receipts obtained by Bloomberg. Mr Lau's diamond purchase on Nov. 11 came a day after he paid 28.7 million Swiss francs for a 16.08-carat pink diamond at a sale by Christie's in Geneva. Both purchases were made for his seven-year-old daughter Josephine, his office said. Known as the "Blue Moon," the record-breaking gem had a pre-sale estimate of 34.2 million francs to 53.7 million francs, according to Sotheby's website, and has the highest possible colour grade of fancy vivid blue. Mr Lau renamed it "The Blue Moon of Josephine" and christened the pink diamond "Sweet Josephine." Bribery conviction Last year he bought pieces of jewellery for another daughter, 13-year-old Zoe: the 9.75-carat "Zoe Diamond" for $32.6 million at Sotheby's New York, and the "Zoe Red" ruby for HK$65 million ($8.4 million) at Christie's Hong Kong. Not all headline news about Mr Lau has been good. In March 2014 he stepped down as chairman of Chinese Estates after he was convicted in Macau for bribery and money laundering in connection with land secured for a luxury housing project. Mr Lau, who did not attend the trial, was sentenced to five years and three months in prison. As Hong Kong and Macau do not have an extradition treaty, he remains free. Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/business/world-business/hong-kong-billionaire-joseph-lau-sets-2-records-in-24-hours-diamonds-property-20151112-gkxy1f.html#ixzz3vQjhISwW Follow us: @smh on Twitter | sydneymorningherald on Facebook ===================================================== Tallest Seattle Tower Said to Sell for Over $700 Million by empty text Hui-yong Yu empty text June 4, 2015 A group led by Gaw Capital Partners agreed to buy Columbia Center, Seattle’s tallest tower, for more than $700 million, said two people with knowledge of the deal. The price would be a record for an individual office building in the city. Gaw Capital, the Hong Kong-based property investment company led by Goodwin Gaw, is joining with other Asian investors to buy the 76-story building, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the sale is private. The seller is Boston-based Beacon Capital Partners, which in 2007 paid $621 million for the tower, at the time the highest price paid for a single Seattle office building, according to property-research firm Real Capital Analytics Inc. Columbia Center is the second-tallest U.S. building west of Chicago, after U.S. Bank Tower in downtown Los Angeles. Brokerage Eastdil Secured LLC is representing Beacon in the sale. Foreign investors are flocking to U.S. real estate for returns that exceed yields on fixed-income assets with a similar moderate-risk profile. Seattle’s large base of technology jobs has helped make the city one of the top U.S. markets for property investors. Sylvia Lee, a Gaw Capital spokeswoman, said she had no immediate comment. Andy Wattula, the Beacon executive who oversees asset management and acquisitions in the Pacific Northwest, declined to comment. Gaw Capital’s planned purchase was cited in a May 29 report by CBRE Group Inc., the world’s biggest commercial-property broker. Columbia Center, at 701 Fifth Ave., has about 1.5 million square feet (139,400 square meters). There’s an observatory on the 73rd floor and a private club on the top two floors. Occupancy at the property, built in 1985, is about 87 percent. Amazon.com Inc. had been the main tenant in Columbia Center before it left for a new headquarters campus starting in 2010. Its departure coupled with the financial crisis left the building more than a third empty. Beacon renegotiated the debt, added amenities and signed new tenants including Dropbox Inc., a Web service for sharing files.

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