WhatsApp Co-founder Jan Koum Pays $109 Million For Home Next Door
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WhatsApp Co-founder Jan Koum Pays $109 Million For Home Next Door

The clifftop property includes a funicular down to the ocean that was built by late country singer Kenny Rogers.

By Katherin Clarke
Wed, Feb 24, 2021 2:44amGrey Clock 2 min

Jan Koum, the co-founder of WhatsApp, is paying approx. $109 million for a Malibu, Calif. mansion right next door to one he already owns, according to two people familiar with the deal.

The transaction is the latest big-ticket deal for Mr Koum in the Los Angeles area. In 2019 he purchased the neighbouring Malibu property from entertainment executive Ron Meyer for around $126 million. Then last year Mr Koum spent approx. $157 million for the Beverly Hills estate of Quibi founder Jeffrey Katzenberg.

The seller in the latest transaction is Diana Jenkins, a Bosnia-born entrepreneur and philanthropist. Ms Jenkins, founder of health-drinks company Neuro Drinks, was previously married to British financier Roger Jenkins. Her home came on the market last May for US$125 million, The Wall Street Journal reported. It is on Malibu’s Paradise Cove, and its prior owners include Barry Diller and the late country singer Kenny Rogers.

Sitting on a cliff top, the property has its own funicular leading down to the ocean (Mr Rogers was slapped with a US$2 million fine by local authorities for installing it.). On nearly 3 acres, it includes a single-story, five-bedroom house with vaulted ceilings, herringbone floors and floor-to-ceiling windows that open onto the gardens. It also has a dance studio and a recording studio. On the grounds, there is a three-bedroom guesthouse, a swimming pool, a waterfall and koi pond, a sports court and a guard house.

The funicular leads an oceanfront cabana, which has retractable ceilings, a wet bar, a built-in barbecue and fire pit.

Mr Koum, 44 helped launch WhatsApp, an internet messaging service, in 2009. Following the service’s acquisition by Facebook in 2014, he remained as a Facebook director for several years before stepping down in 2018. The Bloomberg Billionaires Index pegs his net worth at $15.7 billion.

Chris Cortazzo of Compass has the listing. The buyer was represented by Kurt Rappaport of Westside Estate Agency.



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Hong Kong Takes Drastic Action to Avert Property Slump

The city’s real-estate market has been hurt by high interest rates and mainland China’s economic slowdown

By ELAINE YU
Fri, Mar 1, 2024 3 min

Hong Kong has taken a bold step to ease a real-estate slump, scrapping a series of property taxes in an effort to turn around a market that is often seen as a proxy for the city’s beleaguered economy.

The government has removed longstanding property taxes that were imposed on nonpermanent residents, those buying a second home, or people reselling a property within two years after buying, Financial Secretary Paul Chan said in his annual budget speech on Wednesday.

The move is an attempt to revive a property market that is still one of the most expensive in the world, but that has been badly shaken by social unrest, the fallout of the government’s strict approach to containing Covid-19 and the slowdown of China’s economy . Hong Kong’s high interest rates, which track U.S. rates due to its currency peg,  have increased the pressure .

The decision to ease the tax burden could encourage more buying from people in mainland China, who have been a driving force in Hong Kong’s property market for years. Chinese tycoons, squeezed by problems at home, have  in some cases become forced sellers  of Hong Kong real estate—dealing major damage to the luxury segment.

Hong Kong’s super luxury homes  have lost more than a quarter of their value  since the middle of 2022.

The additional taxes were introduced in a series of announcements starting in 2010, when the government was focused on cooling down soaring home prices that had made Hong Kong one of the world’s least affordable property markets. They are all in the form of stamp duty, a tax imposed on property sales.

“The relevant measures are no longer necessary amidst the current economic and market conditions,” Chan said.

The tax cuts will lead to more buying and support prices in the coming months, said Eddie Kwok, senior director of valuation and advisory services at CBRE Hong Kong, a property consultant. But in the longer term, the market will remain sensitive to the level of interest rates and developers may still need to lower their prices to attract demand thanks to a stockpile of new homes, he said.

Hong Kong’s authorities had already relaxed rules last year to help revive the market, allowing home buyers to pay less upfront when buying certain properties, and cutting by half the taxes for those buying a second property and for home purchases by foreigners. By the end of 2023, the price index for private homes reached a seven-year low, according to Hong Kong’s Rating and Valuation Department.

The city’s monetary authority relaxed mortgage rules further on Wednesday, allowing potential buyers to borrow more for homes valued at around $4 million.

The shares of Hong Kong’s property developers jumped after the announcement, defying a selloff in the wider market. New World Development , Sun Hung Kai Properties and Henderson Land Development were higher in afternoon trading, clawing back some of their losses from a slide in their stock prices this year.

The city’s budget deficit will widen to about $13 billion in the coming fiscal year, which starts on April 1. That is larger than expected, Chan said. Revenues from land sales and leases, an important source of government income, will fall to about $2.5 billion, about $8.4 billion lower than the original estimate and far lower than the previous year, according to Chan.

The sweeping property measures are part of broader plans by Hong Kong’s government to prop up the city amid competition from Singapore and elsewhere. Stringent pandemic controls and anxieties about Beijing’s political crackdown led to  an exodus of local residents and foreigners  from the Asian financial centre.

But tens of thousands of Chinese nationals have arrived in the past year, the result of Hong Kong  rolling out new visa rules aimed at luring talent in 2022.

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