Pan Sutong, the embattled real estate tycoon facing a breach of contract law suit, has been replaced in a venture in Hong Kong’s Ho Man Tin residential district, the latest twist in the financial struggles of one of the city’s high-flying developers.
Pan’s Goldin Properties Holdings reached a novation agreement to transfer its right to develop Ho Man Tin Station Package One parcel to Great Eagle Group of the Lo family, said MTR Corporation. Great Eagle paid a HK$1 billion (US$129 million) refundable deposit to MTR, according to a separate filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange by the developer.
“[MTR] will work together with Great Eagle to bring this project to completion,” according a statement by the subway operator, which owns land around the city that can be developed into residential, commercial and retail property.
The emergence of Great Eagle is the latest twist in the dramatic rise and fall of Pan, whose Hong Kong-listed Goldin Financial Holdings made headlines in June 2019 when it forfeited HK$25 million in deposit after walking away from its HK$11.1 billion bid for a harbourfront plot of commercial land at the former Kai Tak airport site. Less than a year later, the developer sold a separate plot of residential land at Kai Tak for a record HK$2.57 billion loss.
The Ho Man Tin land parcel, which could yield 69,000 square metres (742,716 square feet) of gross floor area capable of housing as many as 1,000 apartment units, could cost HK$10 billion to develop, according to analysts’ estimates.
The development right was awarded in December 2016 by MTR to Gold Brilliant Investment, a consortium led by Goldin Financial.
Goldin sold 50.1 per cent of the stake in the project to the company’s chairman Pan for HK$6 billion in April 2018. Goldin, with HK$7.6 billion in total liabilities as of December, reported HK$993.13 million in interim loss in the second half of 2020.
Pan, 57, was estimated to be worth US$27 billion in 2015 by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. With the shares of Goldin and most of his property portfolio locked up as collateral for loans, the tycoon has fallen out of the list of the world’s 500 wealthiest people.
Goldin Financial received a bailout last year after it sold its second Kai Tak land parcel called Area 4B Site 4 at a discount in exchange for cash and loans. The buyer, a private company incorporated in the British Virgin Islands known as Sino Shield, was believed to be linked to Hong Kong’s most famous business tycoon Li Ka-shing.
On February 9, Pan and his Gold Brilliant unit signed a tentative agreement to transfer their development rights in Ho Man Tin to Great Eagle, chaired by tycoon Lo Ka-shui. Ten days later, CK Asset’s unit Cheung Kong Property (Business Development) filed a writ in the Hong Kong High Court, suing Pan and Gold Brilliant for breaching a September 1, 2020 agreement that granted the right of first refusal to build in Ho Man Tin to Hong Kong’s second-largest developer.
MTR and Great Eagle said they would not comment on the agreements reached by the other parties. CK Asset was unavailable for comment.
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