French windfall for Hong Kong consulate

The home of France's top diplomat in Hong Kong, located in one of the Chinese territory's glitziest districts, has sold for a whopping €51.6 million, the consulate said Wednesday.

Buyer Fortune Asset Management snapped up the 19th-century residence in Hong Kong’s Peak neighbourhood for HK$580 million ($74.5 million), as housing prices in the former British colony continue to soar.

“(The sale) is part of a wider government policy to streamline its real estate holdings abroad,” Consul General Arnaud Barthélémy told AFP, adding that the sale “was a good deal”.

Barthélémy said the consulate would buy a new residence that is more “modern and practical” than the current “antiquated” home which requires significant upkeep.

Under the deal, which was signed last Friday, the French diplomat will be allowed to stay in the residence for two more years.

Average home prices in Hong Kong soared about 24 percent last year, prompting the government to usher in a series of measures including sales of public land to cool the red-hot property market.