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Hong Kong's First Real Estate Investment Trust Debuts

Hong Kong's first real estate investment trust had a stirring market debut, and Hong Kong Disneyland says it is on track to meet attendance projections.

Shares in Hong Kong's Link Real Estate Investment Trust had an impressive first trading day on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, rising almost 15 percent to $1.50.

It was Hong Kong's first and the world's largest initial public offering of a property trust, and it appeared almost a year late. The listing was originally scheduled for December 2004, but was held up when a resident of one of Hong Kong's many public housing estates challenged its legality in court.

The fund will buy real estate such as shopping malls and parking lots from the government, many of them located in public housing complexes, and pay investors a fixed return from the rents.

Alfred Chan, chief dealer at Cheer Pearl Investment in Hong Kong, believes the positive trading debut will lead to the creation of more real estate investment trusts, or REITS.

"A lot of the real estate firms in Hong Kong are looking into setting up such funds to alleviate the burden of their financial situation, so they can cash in [on] their real estate investment and share their good results with the investor public," said Mr. Chan.

In other news from Hong Kong, the company that operates the new Hong Kong Disneyland dismissed local media reports that the number of guests visiting its theme park in the first two months has been lower than expected.

Hong Kong Disneyland, which is jointly owned by the government and the Walt Disney Company, is hoping to draw more than 5.5 million visitors in its first year.

Disney said more than one million guests have visited the park since it opened in September, putting it on track to reach its attendance goal. The company said close to half of the visitors to date have been from Hong Kong and twenty-six percent from mainland China.

Hainan Airlines Group, the state-owned parent company of China's Hainan Airlines, is in talks to take a controlling stake in CR Airways, a Hong Kong charter flight carrier.

Hong Kong's third-largest carrier offers charter flights to secondary mainland cities and regional destinations.

Analysts say taking over CR would help the Chinese aviation group to become a regional player.

Australia's Coopers brewery turned down a hostile takeover bid by rival beer maker Lion Nathan, the country's second largest.

Lion Nathan had raised its offer for Adelaide-based Coopers brewery to $228 a share, after an opening bid of $191 was rejected. But family-owned Coopers said the offer did not reflect the company's growth prospects and its potential long-term value.