A veteran investor has proposed a bold public-private partnership to finance the controversial HK$624 billion (US$80 billion) Lantau Tomorrow Vision project without depleting the government coffers, but analysts said the scheme has its drawbacks and called for greater public participation.
The “Popular Public Private Partnership” put forward by Sing Wang involves setting up a company with an equity of HK$100 billion, with three-quarters to be owned by Hong Kong residents on a “one person one share” basis.
According to the plan, all Hong Kong permanent residents will be granted free warrants, with a total nominal value of HK$75 billion, said Wang, the chairman of Hong Kong My Home, at a briefing on Monday. Wang is the former chief executive of Hong Kong-listed technology and media company Tom Group, part of tycoon Li Ka-shing’s CK Hutchison Holdings. He has also held senior positions at many mainland-based companies and investment funds.
“If the government fortunately does approve it, and fortunately my private company can participate … I will donate 70 per cent of profits to Hong Kong,” said Wang. “I need to make some money for the work. [But] I’m not doing this not for maximising personal wealth. This is not my goal.”
The Hong Kong government’s ambitious plan involves building 1,700 hectares (4,200 acres) of artificial islands – an area equivalent to one-third of Kowloon – in the waters around Kau Yi Chau and Hei Ling Chau between Lantau and Hong Kong Island. But the scheme has drawn criticism for its massive cost and potentially irreversible environmental damage.
Wang said that holders of the warrants will be allowed to convert them into shares when the company seeks a flotation on the Hong Kong stock exchange in around five years’ time. The remaining HK$25 billion, he said, could be raised from sovereign wealth funds and international pension funds.