Date of Completion :
office towers - 37 storey and 47-storey towers
located by Victoria Park and connects Central to Pacific Place and
in talks for Citibank Plaza buyout
Champion Real Estate Investment Trust (2778), which
holds Citibank Plaza as its only asset, plans to buy out the Central office
building from Kerry Properties (0683) for nearly HK$1 billion, sources said.
Eagle Asset Management, the
manager of Champion REIT, said Tuesday that it is at a preliminary stage of
discussions to buy three floors of Citibank Plaza.
A binding agreement has not been
made, the manager said. Details have not been disclosed.
Located at 3 Garden Road, Kerry
owns the 34th, 36th and 37th floors in Citibank Plaza offering a total gross
floor area of nearly 53,000 square feet. It is valued at between HK$15,000
and HK$18,000 per sqft, or as much as HK$950 million, surveyors said.
Chief financial officer
Christopher Wong Wing-kee declined to comment Tuesday.
Wong said earlier this month that
Kerry intends to sell non-core assets in Hong Kong. He did not reveal
details including prices.
According to the Champion REIT
prospectus, the trust would not acquire properties within one year of its
listing in May.
But if the buyout offer for
Citibank Plaza is concluded, it has to apply to the stock exchange for a
Shares of Champion REIT closed
unchanged Tuesday at HK$3.88 - but that still left the stock down 24 percent
since its debut.
The REIT, which generates income
from the Central property which was 94.2 percent let in the first half of
the year, offers a dividend yield of up to 7.3 percent in 2006.
Citibank Plaza is expected to
benefit from the limited new supply of office space in Central in the next
five years, as office building rentals will continue to rise through lease
renewals, analysts said. Demand for Grade A office space remains strong this
year, Knight Frank Petty said.
The property consultant said Grade
A office rents were up by about 1percent in August to an average HK$52.8 per
sqft, representing about 40 percent growth from a year ago.
Knight Frank Petty's
executive director, indicated that pre-lease activity of new Grade A office
space was robust last month. In Central, Legg Mason committed to the entire
12th floor of York House, developed by Hongkong Land, totaling 8,275 sqft
for more than HK$100 per s qft . -by Raymond Wang
KONG STANDARD 27 Sept 2006