Nan Fung

Last line of defence

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 23 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 08 May, 2015, 10:49am


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Security guards keep the public at bay at the private funeral service for Chen Din-hwa, founder of the Nan Fung Group, at the Hong Kong Funeral Home in Quarry Bay yesterday.

Chen's elder daughter, Angela Chen, and her husband, Tang Man-fai, arrived at the parlour in the morning. Other guests refused to exit their cars until guards and parlour staff rolled down a garage door to protect their identities. At one point, police were called to ensure no journalists had entered the funeral home.

Chen, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease three years ago, died last weekend aged 89. Media reports said he died of prostate cancer at the Hong Kong Sanatorium and Hospital in Happy Valley.

Chen was ranked 464th on the Forbes list of billionaires, and 15th among the 39 billionaires in Hong Kong, with a net worth of US$2.6 billion. The family has tried to keep a low profile, but a dispute over Chen's assets put the family in the media spotlight in recent years.

His wife, Yang Foo-oi, 87, sided with Angela to sue younger daughter Vivien over a trust fund, alleging Chen had been misled into transferring his assets. Last year, Yang divorced Chen, walking away with a settlement.

Chen was born in Ningbo, Zhejiang province, to an impoverished family, and left school at 12 when he was apprenticed to a silk merchant. He moved to Hong Kong in 1949 and set up Nan Fung Textiles five years later. Chen was known for revolutionising the industry with technological innovations, earning him the sobriquet 'The King of Cotton Yarn'. Another service will be held on July 7 at Cham Shan Monastery in Clearwater Bay, but it is unclear if it will be open to the public.