Link Asset Management engages HSBC for another review

Community mall operator Link Asset Management has announced a fresh review of its assets portfolio, calling back experts from HSBC and DTZ Cushman & Wakefield.

The new review comes just over a year after the last one, in which HSBC was also involved, along with UBS Hong Kong as financial advisors, and DTZ Cushman & Wakefield as real-estate advisor. That review resulted in 17 properties being placed on the market in the latter part of last year, drawing bids of HK$23 billion (US$2.96 billion at the time).

In a stock exchange filing on the eve of Tuesday’s public holiday in Hong Kong, Link said the review was “seeking to optimise Link’s asset portfolio and maximise value for Link’s unitholders”.

The filing, by company secretary Ricky Chan, said the portfolio review “may involve potential disposal and/or acquisition of assets”.

“As at the date of this announcement, no decision has yet been made as to any proposal, and there is no assurance that the portfolio review will lead to any transaction being announced or concluded.”

Link inherited about 180 retail and car park properties from the Housing Authority of Hong Kong in 2005. Previously considered public amenities,  and typically located within public housing districts, Link was charged with converting them into commercial operations. Many of the smaller properties have since been divested, leaving a portfolio of 138 properties. About 38 of Link’s markets have recently been substantially overhauled into modern fresh marketplaces.

The company has faced criticism in the past for selling down its portfolio with some people in the community under the misapprehension the listed REIT remains a public body rather than an independent, standalone commercial business.

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