Hong Kong developer Wharf sells Amazon, Facebook stakes for US$944 million, boosting own privatisation appeal

Martin Choi
·3-min read

The Wharf (Holdings), one of Hong Kong’s biggest commercial landlords, said it sold Amazon and Facebook shares over the past 10 months for US$944 million (HK$7.3 billion) to profit from investments in companies run by two of the world’s top billionaires.

The developer sold 223,452 Amazon shares, or 0.04 per cent stake, between August 5 and May 22 for US$441 million in net proceeds, according to a Hong Kong stock exchange filing. The company also disposed of 2,576,491 Facebook shares, or 0.09 per cent stake, for US$503 million.

Both open-market sales generated US$199 million and US$50 million of surplus respectively over their carrying book values, the company added. Shares of Amazon and Facebook, run by Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg, rallied more than 29 per cent in the period.

Shares of Wharf (Holdings) rose 3.5 per cent to HK$13.46 on Tuesday, while its parent Wheelock gained 2.5 per cent to HK$52.75.

The two US companies are part of the much-vaunted FAANG stocks, an acronym of technology giants that include Apple, Google (Alphabet) and Netflix.

The surplus could bolster the value of Wharf (Holdings), part of the Wheelock Properties group controlled by billionaire Peter Woo Kwong-ching. Wheelock in February proposed to distribute its stakes in units including Wharf to their shareholders under a windfall privatisation plan.

Wheelock owns 72.99 per cent of Wharf (Holdings) as of May 18, according to a filing with the stock exchange.

In late April, Wharf (Holdings) warned of a loss for the six months ending June 30, due to the severe disruption caused by Covid-19 to its investment and development properties. This compared to a profit of HK$2.45 billion in the same period last year.

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