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Billionaire Pares Real Estate Holdings With Sale of Hong Kong Skyscraper

By Teng Jing Xuan
CK Asset Holdings Ltd., controlled by 89-year-old Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing, plans to sell The Center, the city’s fifth-tallest building, to C.H.M.T. Peaceful Development Asia Property Ltd. for HK$40.2 billion ($5.15 billion). Photo: Visual China
CK Asset Holdings Ltd., controlled by 89-year-old Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing, plans to sell The Center, the city’s fifth-tallest building, to C.H.M.T. Peaceful Development Asia Property Ltd. for HK$40.2 billion ($5.15 billion). Photo: Visual China

Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-Shing has agreed to sell a downtown skyscraper in one of the world’s biggest real estate deals ever, the latest in a series of Hong Kong and Chinese-mainland divestitures by the self-made mogul.

CK Asset Holdings Ltd., controlled by Li, plans to sell The Center, the city’s fifth-tallest building, to consortium C.H.M.T. Peaceful Development Asia Property Ltd. for HK$40.2 billion ($5.15 billion), according to a Hong Kong Stock Exchange filing late Wednesday.

The sale is set to be the largest-ever of an office complex in the Asia-Pacific region. In October 2016, Li’s Cheung Kong Property Holdings and Li Ka Shing (Overseas) Foundation sold their combined 100% stake in Shanghai’s Century Link Complex to a China Life Insurance Co. subsidiary for 20 billion yuan ($2.95 billion at the time).

The Qatar Investment Authority set the previous record in the region in July 2016 when it acquired Asia Square Tower 1 in Singapore for $2.45 billion, according to global real estate services firm JLL. The Center deal also approaches BlackRock Realty’s world record-setting $5.4 billion purchase of two New York City properties in 2006.

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CK Asset Holdings Ltd.'s planned $5.15 billion sale of The Center, Hong Kong's fifth-tallest building, will be the largest ever for an office complex in the Asia-Pacific region. Photo: Visual China

Located in Hong Kong’s Central district, The Center, with 73 floors, has nearly 1.4 million square feet of floor space, and features an unusual all-steel structure without a concrete core.

CK Asset Holdings will receive HK$14.5 billion once the sale closes, the company said.

The buyer is a British Virgin Islands-registered company controlled by state-owned China Energy Reserve and Chemicals Group, which owns a 55% stake, according to Hong Kong media reports.

Li’s culling of his portfolio in Hong Kong and on the mainland hasn’t been limited to real estate assets. In July, his Hutchison Telecommunications sold its fixed-line phone subsidiary Hutchison Global Communications to a U.S. buyer for HK$14.5 billion.

Contact reporter Teng Jing Xuan (jingxuanteng@caixin.com)

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