C-Mer’s Lam is Hong Kong’s richest ophthalmologist, after shares soar fourfold in IPO week
Surge since listing on Monday also helped by new highs hit by Hang Seng Index
Dr Dennis Lam Shun-chiu, the popular ophthalmologist who founded C-Mer Eye Care Holdings, has become Hong Kong’s richest eye doctor – and perhaps one of the world’s richest medical professionals.
C-Mer, the Hong Kong eye clinic backed by Tencent chairman and founder Pony Ma Huateng, has soared more than fourfold within a week of its listing. C-Mer, despite its small fundraising size of HK$571 million (US$73.04 million), was oversubscribed 1,568 times by retail investors, making it the city’s hottest initial public offering among mid to large cap stocks in 11 years.
Shares in C-Mer, which went public on Monday, closed on Friday at HK$12.88, up 340 per cent from its IPO price of HK$2.9. Dr Lam, who owns 72.3 per cent of C-Mer and is the company’s chief executive, has consequently seen his personal fortune spike to HK$9.31 billion (US$1.19 billion).
This makes him one of the world’s richest doctors, after US doctor James Leininger’s US$1.4 billion net worth, which currently ranks the American fifth on Forbes’ global list of top five billionaire doctors.
The surge in C-Mer stock was also helped by Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index, which repeatedly hit records last week, closing at an all-time high of 32,254.89 on Friday.
“The future focus of our business is to expand in China,” Lam told the South China Morning Post in a written reply. “We want to export advanced techniques in eye treatment and Hong Kong’s quality medical services to China. Health care services is one of Hong Kong’s core strengths. It has the capability to export such services to the mainland market.”
Lam said China’s health care sector was experiencing rapid growth, while Hong Kong’s was already a mature market. In particular, the need for eye care is growing in China as its population is ageing and younger generations are suffering from increasing instances of short-sightedness, he added.
The Beijing C-Mer Eye Care Hospital, C-Mer’s second mainland hospital, is scheduled to open next Tuesday, the company said. It also plans to open another two in eastern China – potentially in Shanghai, Suzhou, Nanjing, Ningbo or Hangzhou – as well as two satellite clinics in Shenzhen.
In Hong Kong, C-Mer will open satellite clinics in Kwun Tong in the first quarter of this year.
In 2019, four more hospitals could be launched in southwest, southern, central, and northern China. One of them might be launched in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau “Greater Bay Area”.
C-Mer established its first mainland hospital in Shenzhen in 2013, the first eye clinic wholly owned by Hong Kong investors in China, thanks to the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement, which gives Hong Kong businesses greater access to mainland markets.
“Without CEPA, we won’t have achieved today’s results,” said Lam.
Cornerstone investors of the company include several business magnates from Hong Kong and China – Tencent’s Ma, Michael Ying Lee-yuen, former chairman and chief executive officer of Esprit Holdings, Allan Zeman, the chairman of property developer Lan Kwai Fong Group, as well as Zhao Yong, the son of Chinese billionaire Chan Laiwa, chairwoman of Beijing-based developer Fu Wah International Group.
“We want to create a synergy effect by introducing these cornerstone investors,” said Lam, adding that Zhao’s investment was “crucial” to the company’s expansion on mainland China.
He also said the possibility was there for a potential cooperation between C-Mer and Tencent.