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HONG KONG-The Court of Final Appeal has refused to curtail the 28-day time limit for a final appeal to be lodged against the $3-billion Link REIT.

The statement was in response to a legal challenge by public housing tenant Lo Siu Lang to plans by the Hong Kong Housing Authority’s to privatize 180 retail malls and car parks through a quoted REIT. The Housing Authority, which has said it would scrap its IPO on Dec. 20 if legal issues are not resolved by then, wanted the CFA to force Lo to make any final legal challenge immediately.

Lo has already failed in an initial challenge against the Link REIT and a subsequent appeal. But, in a statement, Chief Justice Andrew Li said the court did not have the jurisdiction to shorten the usual 28-day deadline for the appeal. The tenant now has to decide whether or when to appeal to the final court.

The IPO attracted a record HK$280 billion ($35.9 billion) worth of share orders from 510,000 Hong Kong retail investors. With so much investor money tied up in the deal, the Housing Authority has said it would scrap the IPO if all legal issues are not settled by 8 a.m. on Dec. 20.

“A final decision to proceed with the listing of the Link Real Estate Investment Trust on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange or not will be made over the weekend once we have all the necessary information available,” a Housing Authority statement said.

HSBC and fellow sponsor of the deal UBS said it was up to the Housing Authority to decide whether the deal would go ahead. “Theoretically, if the government would take an open-blanket indemnity, of course yes,” said Raymond Or, general manager of the Hong Kong Bank unit of HSBC, when asked if HSBC would still support the listing.

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