HONG KONG - Hong Kong telecoms giant PCCW has been renting prime publicly-owned real estate to house a staff recreation club for just S$16 a year, a report said Saturday, amid rising public anger over soaring property prices.
The South China Morning Post said the firm - whose billionaire chairman Richard Li is the son of the city's richest man, Li Ka-shing - has paid HK$100 (S$16) annually over the last three decades for the site in Hong Kong's busy Causeway Bay shopping district.
The club, open only to PCCW staff, has a mini-soccer pitch, a gym, restaurant, lounge and a barbecue site, the report said.
The generous leasing agreement dates back to 1981 when Hong Kong was still a British colony and PCCW was known as Cable and Wireless, the Post said, adding that government plans to redevelop the land had never been started.
A PCCW spokesman could not be immediately reached Saturday.
Hong Kong's government has pledged to tame property costs with a series of land auctions, but three residential property sales last week fetched a total of HK$5.73 billion (S$917.65 million), at the top end of estimates.
The city's average home prices soared about 24 per cent last year, with some lawmakers calling for the resumption of a subsidised housing scheme because of concerns about a growing income gap.
Leases for the PCCW site and a host of other private clubs require that outside groups be allowed to use their amenities for a certain number of hours each week, but the little-known regulations are rarely followed, the Post said.