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Hammer quiet for aircraft carrier auction
Latest Updated by 2006-03-23 11:35:03
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SHENZHEN: The hammer of the auctioneer did not bang at yesterday's auction of China's highly anticipated first aircraft-carrier-turned-theme park.

No bidders answered the bidding call, which started at 128.3 million yuan (US$15.8 million). The auctioneer from Guangdong Xutongda Auction Co announced the abortion very quickly.

The unexpected result surprised all the excited journalists, at least 50, at the small auction site, some of who even came from neighbouring Guangzhou and Hong Kong.

The auction house refused to give any details of the bidders, citing the confidential principal. But according to one of the bidders, who said his company's name was Shenzhen Landscape Electronic Co, a total of three bidders took part in the no-win game.

Another bidder was Beijing-based CITIC Travel Co, which market speculation regarded as the potential winner of the auction, said the bidding company representative who did not disclose his name. The third party remains unknown.

When commenting on the auction, the auctioneer Luo Yuanqing told reporters that "the result was decided by the market." He said the company did not make any forecasts before the auction.

Since the operating company of the theme park was declared bankrupt by Shenzhen Intermediate People's Court last February, it will be put under the hammer again later, said Luo.

The "Minsk," a decommissioned aircraft carrier of the former Soviet Union, was initially bought by a Chinese company for scrap metal in 1998, but then was sold to an entertainment firm, which spent millions of dollars turning the ship into a big tourist attraction located in Shenzhen, a port city in South China's Guangdong Province.

However, the operator dipped into a financial crisis with a net debt of 190 million yuan (US$23.4 million) and was forced to go bankrupt.

Some market insiders assumed that the abortion should be attributed to the extra conditions rather than the price. According to the bidding requirements, the aircraft carrier could leave Shenzhen only after five years of operation. The winning bidder needs to pay the entire amount of money within a month.

Editor: Yan

By: Chen Hong Source: China Daily Website
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