Plans to float the largest REIT IPO in history were stalled again this week after a public housing tenant effectively blocked the Hong Kong government from launching their $3 billion Link REIT. The Link REIT portfolio consists of 151 shopping centers and 79,000 parking spaces in Hong Kong. The IPO was originally slated to hit the market on December 17.
A senior official from the Hong Kong Housing Authority told Dow Jones today that the LINK will likely come to market in February. That schedule, however, assumes that the tenant doesn’t launch any final appeals by then. The government may also have to review the value of the Link portfolio unless the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission waives that process.
"The money has been returned to the investors and the deal is kaput for now," says Barry Vinocur, publisher of Realty Stock Review. He doesn’t believe that the Link REIT is gone, however.
"The money managers will bring it back. This one housing tenant has 28 days to appeal, and her first two appeals were rejected," says Vinocur.
Vinocur, among other sources, is impressed by the demand that this offering has fueled. He expects that other Asian countries will establish REIT-like vehicles based on the huge demand for Link shares.
"The REIT train has clearly left the station," says Vinocur, referring to the global adoption of the REIT model.
Still, he questions whether the sudden postponement of the offering will put the Hong Kong government in a negative light and convince some investors to steer clear of the Link.
"There’s plenty of speculation about what this [delaying the IPO] will do to demand in Hong Kong," says Vinocur.