Ex-Billionaire Abandons Office in Prime Hong Kong Tower

(Bloomberg) -- Former billionaire Wang Jing, who agreed to build a canal across Nicaragua to rival the Panama Canal, has abandoned his office in Hong Kong island’s tallest skyscraper.

HK Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Co., a subsidiary of a company owned by Wang, surrendered its lease agreement on April 18 for suites on the International Finance Centre’s 18th floor. The company had renewed a three-year lease for the offices in January 2016, with the option to extend for a further three years, according to Hong Kong’s land registry. The lease agreement was initially for HK$2.1 million per month.

Ex-Billionaire Abandons Office in Prime Hong Kong Tower

A receptionist at Two IFC, which counts UBS Group AG and Blackstone Group among its tenants, said HKND moved out last week and didn’t leave information about its new address.

A representative for Wang said by phone that the move reflected a "change of strategy," and added that the company will maintain operations in Hong Kong, but declined to provide details about the new location. The company’s registered address is an accounting office in Kowloon. HKND didn’t respond to requests for additional comment.

Wang signed a $50 billion deal to build the rival canal linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans in 2013 with the Nicaraguan government of President Daniel Ortega. A series of protests against Ortega that began with opponents of the canal project in 2014 has grown into widespread unrest that forced the Nicaraguan leader to back down on his controversial social security reform last week.

Nicaragua’s main daily La Prensa said in an April 23 editorial that Ortega "lost control of the streets" and called for his resignation. The Nicaraguan Center of Human Rights said more than 30 people have died in the protests.

Wang’s business empire faces other setbacks, including a stock suspension of his Beijing-based telecom company and a court fight in Ukraine. Ukraine’s Security Services conducted searches at the country’s biggest maker of aircraft and helicopter engines this week in an investigation into a buyout bid by companies linked to Wang.

The Chinese tycoon has explored several options to shore up investment for the canal project, but five years after Nicaragua’s legislature greenlighted the project, it remains unclear how he plans to fund it.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.