Pan Sutong-controlled Goldin Financial loses control over flagship tower as court rules in favour of creditors

Pearl Liu
·3-min read

The drama surrounding the ownership and sale of Goldin Financial Global Centre, a 28-storey building and headquarters of cash-strapped Goldin Financial Holdings, came to an end on Thursday, after a court ruled in favour of the developer’s creditors.

The Goldin unit Smart Edge and Goldin Financial Global Centre are under the control of Cosimo Borrelli and Ma Siu Ming of specialist restructuring, insolvency and forensic accounting firm Borrelli Walsh, the joint receivers and managers appointed by Goldin’s creditors, the High Court said in the ruling.

They are authorised to deal with the affairs of Smart Edge, which owns the office tower, the court said.

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The receivers welcomed the court’s ruling, saying that it enables them to proceed with the sale of “Smart Edge and/or GCFC [Goldin Financial Global Centre] without interference”. They said that they have appointed Knight Frank as the sole agent to market and sell Smart Edge or GFGC, which is working with a “number of interested buyers from around the world”. It added that the deadline for expression of interest is on or before noon November 11.

Goldin Financial Global Centre in Kowloon Bay has been at the centre of a dispute between Golding Financial Holdings and its creditors. Photo: Handout
Goldin Financial Global Centre in Kowloon Bay has been at the centre of a dispute between Golding Financial Holdings and its creditors. Photo: Handout

The agents have previously said that the building could fetch at least HK$12 billion (US$1.54 billion).

In a statement following the court ruling, a Goldin Financial spokesperson said that the company “has taken the initiative to extend an olive branch [to the creditors] and the lawyers representing both sides have reached a consensus on some major sticking points.”

Since July, Goldin Financial Holdings, chaired by Chinese billionaire Pan Sutong, and its creditors have been engaged in a tussle to assert control over the grade A office tower, which the developer had used as collateral for loans.

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On September 28, the receivers appointed Knight Frank to sell the grade A office building, after the developer failed to meet it debt obligations. According to earlier filings with Hong Kong stock exchange, Smart Edge had borrowed HK$6.8 billion from a group of undisclosed lenders in April 2019, but it fell behind on its loan obligations, breaching the loan covenants because occupancy and debt servicing fell below agreed levels.

Similarly, Goldin’s other units, Cheng Mei and Goal Eagle, also received a demand from lenders in July this year for HK$1.5 billion and HK$1.9 billion, respectively, for two separate loans tied to the headquarters.

But on September 30, Goldin said in its annual results announcement that it had entered into a provisional sale-and-purchase agreement for the building with an independent third party for HK$14.3 billion the previous day.

Then, on October 5, the receivers said the company had no right to sell it.

Goldin’s liabilities amounted to less than HK$18 billion in total as of June 30, according to its annual accounts, which were published recently. Its cash reserves, however, stood at HK$23 million, having dropped sharply from HK$2.4 billion as of December 31 last year.

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