Often referred to as “Superman” in Hong Kong because of his business prowess, Li Ka-shing is the richest businessman in Asia, and chairs conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa and Cheung Kong Holdings, a property group. Li turned Cheung Kong Industries into a top property group, and Cheung Kong expanded to acquire Hutchison Whampoa in 1979 and Hongkong Electric in 1985. Li is a noted philanthropist and heads a charitable foundation that is a shareholder in Facebook.
Good year for Hong Kong’s property billionaires
Li Ka-shing remains Hong Kong’s richest man – with a US$8 billion increase in wealth over the past year, according to the latest Forbes’ list released on Thursday.
The property tycoon and chairman of the Cheung Kong and Hutchison Whampoa conglomerates now has an estimated wealth of US$30 billion, up from US$22 billion in early last year, according to the latest Forbes’ Hong Kong Rich List.
Li, 84, had the largest gain in wealth among 50 tycoons on the list, it said.
“Besides property, Li’s diversified business empire also includes British gas supplier, Wales & West Utilities, which supplies gas to a quarter of all British citizens,” the report said.
“His private technology investment company continues to buy assets in social media, including TV platform Stevie,” it added.
Nearly two-thirds of tycoons on the list expanded their wealth due to property investment or development, the report said.
Lee Shau-kee, the 84-year-old chairman of developer Henderson Land, remained in second place with an estimated US$20 billion in wealth, a US$3 billion gain over the previous year.
“[Lee] bought shares in his own company last year, boosting his stake by 6.8 percentage points to 62.6 per cent, and watched the stock price climb by more than 40 per cent,” the Forbes’ report said.
In third place were the Kwok family, which saw a year-on-year rise of almost US$4 billion in wealth to US$19.2 billion.
Shares in the family’s flagship company, Sun Hung Kai Properties, rose 28 per cent last year.
Big movers on the list included Lue Chi-wo, who owns Macau’s Galaxy casino, and who shot up to fifth place from eighth last year.
Another was Peter Woo, who rose to seventh from 11th place. His wealth more than doubled to US$8 billion as rentals at his landmark shopping malls continued to be vibrant.
These malls included Harbour City in Tsim Sha Tsui and Times Square in Causeway Bay, which attracts flocks of mainland visitors.
Joseph Lau Luen-hung, who was fifth in the 2011 list, fell to eighth this year despite a US$0.8 billion rise in his wealth.
Lau, 66, is facing a corruption trial in Macau on charges of offering a HK$20 million bribe to Macau’s former public works chief Ao Man-long in 2005.