HONG KONG (AP) _ The government signed a contract with Pacific Century CyberWorks Ltd. on Wednesday for the construction of a high-technology industrial park.

The construction cost for the ``Cyberport,'' a large-scale development that will include offices for information technology companies and homes for workers, was fixed at $2 billion, the government said in a statement.

Any cost overruns will be borne by PCCW, a local Internet start-up owned by 33-year-old Richard Li, son of property tycoon Li Ka-shing, it said.

The government will own the Cyberport, and it will share the profit made from selling an estimated 3,000 residential units with PCCW, said Annie Tam, Hong Kong's information technology and broadcasting deputy secretary. Tam said other profit-sharing arrangements were yet to be made.

Construction of the Cyberport is to begin in mid-2000 and will be completed in three phases at the end of 2001, 2002 and 2003.

The government hopes the Cyberport will become Hong Kong's answer to Silicon Valley and attract investment and talent.

Fifteen major companies _ including IBM, Microsoft and Yahoo! _ have signed letters of intent to become tenants, the statement said.

The government sparked an outcry among property developers last year when it gave Li's company the right to develop the Cyberport without the usual bidding process.

The company won a bid in February to buy Cable and Wireless HKT, the territory's biggest telephone company, pending the approval of shareholders and regulators.