Now worth HK$50 billion, tycoon Joseph Lau’s wife becomes city’s richest woman overnight

Former celebrity journalist Chan Hoi-wan now holds 50.02 pc stake in Chinese Estates Holdings

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 02 March, 2017, 1:45pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 02 March, 2017, 11:00pm

Former celebrity journalist Chan Hoi-wan has become the richest woman in Hong Kong overnight after her husband, property tycoon Joseph Lau Luen-hung, transferred HK$11.3 billion worth of assets to her due to his poor health.

Chan, 37, whom 65-year-old Lau described as “not greedy”, “pure” and “kind-hearted”, became Mrs Lau in December, shortly after the tycoon’s high-profile revelation that he had severed ties with long-time partner Dr Yvonne Lui Lai-kwan in 2014.

Chan and Lau had been in a relationship for more than 10 years before tying the knot.

In a surprise announcement on Wednesday, Lau transferred his entire 74.99 per cent controlling stake in Chinese Estates Holdings to Chan and his son, Lau Ming-wai, due to his “very unstable health condition”.

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Lau said in November last year that he had had a kidney transplant after it was revealed during court hearings that he suffered from renal failure, heart disease and diabetes.

Chan now holds a 50.02 per cent stake in the firm through company Sino Omen, whose shares are held by Chan as a trustee for her minor children Lau Chung-hok and Josephine Lau Sau-wah at a ratio of 65:35.

The transfer came after Chan was appointed executive director of Chinese Estates.

Together with the stake in the company, estimated to be worth HK$11.3 billion, Chan’s wealth will be boosted to about HK$50 billion, making her the richest woman in Hong Kong, and one of the richest in the world.

Last month, Lau gave the HK$18 billion retail complex at commercial building The One, in Tsim Sha Tsui, to his wife.

His son Lau Ming-wai, who is also chairman of Chinese Estates, holds 24.97 per cent of the company.

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Joseph Lau told Apple Daily in November: “[Chan] is not greedy. She is pure, and she is not a bad woman. She has been taking good care of me and my children. She has a kind heart.”

Josephine, Chan’s nine-year-old daughter, is one of Joseph Lau’s favourite children. He even named three precious stones he bought at auctions after her – a US$48.4 million 12.03 carat blue diamond called Blue Moon of Josephine, a US$28.6 million 16.08 carat pink diamond called Sweet Josephine, and a US$9.5 million 7.03 carat vivid blue gem called Star of Josephine.

Lau broke up with Lui in dramatic fashion after printing a full-page announcement in several newspapers stating that he had given her gifts worth more than HK$2 billion over the years.

“Ms Lui has accumulated considerable wealth, and she is now a very wealthy woman. She can maintain a luxurious lifestyle by herself without my financial support,” he said in the announcement.

Lau has two children with Lui.