(Sept 16): It looked like the perfect investment opportunity. A mostly vacant shopping center with scant competition serving a middle-class neighborhood far from Hong Kong’s city center. With a makeover, Wang Tse thought, there could be good foot traffic, but the asking price was too high.

That was in 2017, and property tycoon Li Ka-shing had just sold a skyscraper for a record US$5.2 billion ($7.1 billion). Against such a buoyant backdrop, the shopping-mall seller refused to budge for close to two years.

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