Manulife to acquire office tower at One Bay East in Kowloon from Wheelock Properties

Hong Kong - Wheelock Properties Limited (WPL) and Manulife (International) Limited have signed a sale-and-purchase agreement for the West Tower at One Bay East at 83 Hoi Bun Road, Kowloon East for HK$4.5 billion (C$588 million), marking the largest single office tower purchase in Kowloon. The 21-storey building, which is currently being developed by Wheelock Properties, totals approximately 512,000 square feet.

Wheelock began construction of One Bay East, a 1,025,000-square-foot development which comprises the West Tower and a twin East Tower, in February 2012. The project is expected to be complete by the end of 2015.

One Bay East–West Tower will be named Manulife Tower and will serve as the headquarters for Manulife’s Hong Kong operations. Manulife plans to take occupancy in Manulife Tower in 2016. 

Stewart C. K. Leung, Chairman of WPL, said: “One Bay East is ideally located in the heart of Hong Kong’s second Central Business District (CBD2) and is going to play a crucial role in enhancing Hong Kong’s status as an international financial and business centre. We envisage that many multi-national and local companies will be attracted to this area and we are glad that our vision is shared by such a renowned company as Manulife, which has decided to make a vast investment in this area and in our development. This is a win-win scenario for both the vendor and the purchaser.”

Robert A. Cook, President and Chief Executive Officer of Manulife Financial Asia Limited, said: “Manulife has enjoyed more than 115 years of remarkable business success in Asia and Hong Kong. Hong Kong, where our regional hub is based, is a critical market for our growth plans. This property acquisition demonstrates our continued commitment to Hong Kong and the important role that it plays in our Asia strategy.”  

Michael Huddart, Manulife’s Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer for Hong Kong, remarked: “The decision to acquire a new office tower in Hong Kong is both a milestone for the company and a significant investment, demonstrating our commitment to expand our franchise here and to the future of Hong Kong. It is a strategic business decision for us to purchase an office building that will accommodate our business operations in Hong Kong, and help meet our long-term agency and staff expansion needs, as well as our future growth here.”

Over the past few years, especially following the government’s announcement to develop Kowloon East into the CBD2, more and more multinational companies are eyeing this district for their operations. Manulife was a pioneer moving its Hong Kong operations to Kwun Tong back in 2010. 

Ricky K. Y. Wong, Managing Director, WPL, commented: “We are very pleased to conclude the sale-and-purchase agreement for the One Bay East–West Tower with Manulife. We intend to keep the One Bay East–East Tower for both enbloc and strata-title sale primarily on a whole-floor basis, to multi-national and local companies when the development is closer to its completion.”

Wheelock Properties has an impressive “Kowloon East Waterfront Portfolio” which includes One Bay East (83 Hoi Bun Road), Wharf T & T Square (123 Hoi Bun Road) and the future residential redevelopment of Kowloon Godown (1-3 Kai Hing Road), spanning a 500-metre coastline along a quintessential waterfront in the vibrant and promising CBD2.

Kevin Adolphe, Global Head of Private Asset Management, Manulife Financial and President and CEO of Manulife Real Estate, said: “We are delighted to have secured such a significant office property in Kowloon East, which has immense growth potential as a key business district in the territory. Wheelock is an established real estate developer with a long history of building quality properties and we are pleased to partner with them on this new office tower which will be an exceptional complement to our global real estate portfolio.”

Manulife Tower is the newest addition to Manulife’s global real estate investment portfolio which includes more than 36 million square feet in key markets across Canada, the United States and Asia. Currently, Manulife owns 16 other office properties in Asia, totaling approximately 900,000 square feet.

In addition to Manulife Tower, Manulife will continue to maintain substantial leased premises in several other locations in Hong Kong including Manulife Financial Centre in Kwun Tong which also prominently carries the Manulife brand.

The Hong Kong office of CBRE Group Inc., the world’s largest commercial real estate services and investment firm acted as advisor on the transaction.

About Wheelock Properties Limited
Wheelock Properties is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Wheelock and Company Limited (HKSE:0020). Its core business includes the undertaking of property development, sales and marketing, and asset management functions of the Group’s property development in Hong Kong. The company has a current landbank in Hong Kong in excess of 7 million square feet.

Founded in 1857, Wheelock and Company Limited is a listed investment holding company headquartered in Hong Kong. Wharf Holdings (HKSE:0004), the Group’s principal investment, is strategically focused on property and infrastructure in Hong Kong and China.

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About Manulife (International) Limited
Manulife (International) Limited is a member of the Manulife Financial group of companies.

Manulife Financial is a leading Canada-based financial services group with principal operations in Asia, Canada and the United States. Clients look to Manulife for strong, reliable, trustworthy and forward-thinking solutions for their most significant financial decisions. Our international network of employees, agents and distribution partners offers financial protection and wealth management products and services to millions of clients. We also provide asset management services to institutional customers. Funds under management by Manulife Financial and its subsidiaries were C$532 billion (HK$4,144 billion) as at December 31, 2012. The Company operates as Manulife Financial in Canada and Asia and primarily as John Hancock in the United States.

Manulife Financial Corporation trades as ‘MFC’ on the TSX, NYSE and PSE, and under ‘945’ on the SEHK. Manulife Financial can be found on the Internet at

About Manulife Real Estate
Manulife Real Estate™ is the global real estate arm of Manulife Financial Corporation with fully integrated in-house capabilities and 70 years of experience as an active investor, owner, developer and asset manager of commercial real estate. Diversified by both geography and asset type, the portfolio consists primarily of prime office and industrial properties, as well as select retail and multi-family residential properties, in key metropolitan centers throughout Canada, Asia and in the United States, through Manulife’s U.S. division, John Hancock. In addition to equity real estate, Manulife Real Estate manages the space requirements and own use facilities for Manulife’s operations around the world. In 2011, Manulife Real Estate launched a new real estate fund platform, extending the benefit of its long established real estate asset management expertise to institutional investors. As at December 31, 2012, the Manulife Real Estate portfolio totaled more than 36 million square feet with a market value of C$9.1 billion. Additional information about Manulife Real Estate can be found at

Media Contacts:

Jacqueline Kam / Crystal Tse
Manulife (International) Limited
Tel: (852) 2202 1284 / 2510 3130
Fax: (852) 2234 6875 / 

In Hong Kong:
Eva Ho / Vicky Cheung
Wheelock Properties (Hong Kong) Limited
Tel: (852) 2118 2610 / 2118 2613
Fax: (852) 2118 2068 / 

In Toronto:
Laurie Lupton
Manulife Financial
Tel: (416) 852-7792

Tina Acranis
Manulife Real Estate
Tel: (416) 926-5746