Hong Kong Lifts Veil on Land Sales, Yet Trails China, Singapore

(Bloomberg) -- Hong Kong has partially lifted the veil on its opaque government land tendering process. But it still lags far behind Singapore and China in transparency.

On Thursday the government announced it would provide more information on the bidding process for land sales by providing data on all bids. Yet, it will provide data only after the winning bid transaction is completed, which can take several weeks, and Hong Kong still won’t disclose who made the offers.

Contrast that with Singapore, which provides all bids on land ranked from highest to lowest and the companies who made them when results are announced. In China, the public can follow the bidding in government land auctions in real time.

Hong Kong’s disclosure will be of limited value to analysts if they can’t match bids to bidders, said David Ng, head of China and Hong Kong property research at Macquarie Capital Ltd. Providing the market with information on all the bids provides a better sense of the true market value of a piece of land and might also prevent the kind of aggressive bidding seen by HNA Group, which many believe overpaid to buy four plots of land in the former Kai Tak airport, he said.

That, in turn, could help slow the fast pace of housing price increases in Hong Kong, which is grappling with soaring unaffordability and wealth inequities.

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