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Hong Kong in bid frenzy for personalized car plates
Updated: 2006-02-20 10:21

The introduction of personalized license plates later this year in Hong Kong has been "warmly" welcomed by car owners.

On Saturday, a plate bearing the numerals "123" was auctioned for HK$1.5 million (US$194,000), more than 40 times the bidding price.

The upcoming personalized registrations allow for a combination of eight numbers and English characters.

The "123" bid was followed by "ME 2," which was auctioned for HK$350,000, while "HK 2288" was sold for HK$250,000.

About HK$5 million was raised from the auction of 40 vehicle registration marks. The proceeds will go to the Government Lotteries Fund, a body that uses the money for charity.

Vehicle registration marks that failed to be auctioned included "CL 2828," "DD 8866" and "LL 8888," which were offered in prices ranging from HK$31,000 to HK$200,000.

Hong Kong recently introduced a law which stipulates that a vehicle registration mark can be purchased by auction.

Nearly all of the top 10 expensive car registration marks were purchased by rich businessmen and celebrities in Hong Kong.

The numeral "9" ranks top among all Hong Kong car registration marks in term of price. It was auctioned for HK$13 million in 1994, while the numeral "2" attracted a bid of HK$9.5 million.

The mark "12," purchased for HK$7.1 million, sits in third place, followed by "33" which was auctioned for HK$7 million.

The mark "8," indicating obtaining fortune, ranked fifth with a purchase price of HK$5 million.

Businessmen buying the vehicle registration marks believe that the combination of the special marks are rare and "quality" ones are preferred by Hong Kong tycoons.

A government press release on Thursday said Hong Kong automobile owners can choose the registration marks they like, with only limited restrictions, as the Hong Kong Transport Department will accept applications for the Personalized Vehicle Registration Marks Scheme from April 1.

Cars with personalized car registration marks are expected to appear on Hong Kong streets in September.

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