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Opinion

Score one for the little guy

Hong Kong's LINK REIT juggernaut rolled into town last month. The $2.7 billion IPO of the local Housing Authority's portfolio of retail outlets and car parks, packaged as a real estate investment trust and lead managed by Goldman Sachs, HSBC and UBS, LINK was the world's largest REIT.

The offering generated huge demand. One in 10 Hong Kong residents applied in an IPO that was 130 times subscribed. Institutional applications reached 28 times the stock available. In all $75 billion was tied up in the IPO. Handsome profits were eagerly expected when up popped Lo Siu-lan and Ma ki-chiu, elderly residents of one of the authority's housing developments, to file a suit saying the IPO violated the housing code.

Unsuccessful in their initial bid to derail the project, the two, described in court as, ?elderly folk who must rely on social assistance?, still managed to bring the IPO to its knees when the government was forced to scrap it after the courts refused to shorten the 28-day appeal process.

Now the IPO will be unwound and many of the punters who borrowed to stag it face big losses and are livid at the government's mishandling of what had seemed a racing certainty.

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