Property tycoon Li Ka-shing is still Hong Kong's richest man thanks mainly to a property boom that helped boost his personal wealth last year to US$30 billion.
In Forbes' list of Hong Kong's 50 richest people published yesterday, the chairman of Cheung Kong (Holdings) and Hutchison Whampoa ended the year with an increase of US$8 billion, or 36.4 per cent, in his personal wealth.
Much of the increased wealth recorded by nearly two-thirds of those on the list arose from gains in property investment or development, said Forbes, thanks mainly to a 38 per cent rise in the Hong Kong stock exchange's property index last year.
Henderson Land Development chairman Lee Shau-kee was in second place, with net wealth up 17.65 per cent to US$20 billion; and at No 3, the co-chairmen at Sun Hung Kai Properties - Thomas Kwok Ping-kwong and Raymond Kwok Ping-luen - enjoyed a US$4 billion rise in wealth to US$19.2 billion.
Cheng Yu-tung, the founder of New World Development, was again at No 4, with a personal fortune of US$16 billion.
One of the biggest gainers was Peter Woo Kwong-ching, who rose four places to seventh after shares in his listed property-led flagship, Wharf Holdings, shot up by 77 per cent last year on the back of rising office rentals and increasing sales to mainland and overseas shoppers. Woo's wealth jumped US$3.4 billion from 2011, to US$8 billion.
The property boom also lifted the fortunes of the owners of smaller developers, including Fong Yun-wah, whose unlisted Hip Shing Hong Group benefited from increasing rental incomes generated by a property portfolio focused on Hong Kong Island.
Law Kar-po, who owns the Park Hotel in Tsim Sha Shui and a luxury development on the former popular Yucca de Lac restaurant site in Tai Po, saw his ranking rise 18 places to No 18 as his fortune increased to US$2.6 billion.
Edwin Leong Siu-hung, the chairman of developer Tai Hung Fai Enterprise - which focuses on retail, commercial and industrial property investments - was a newcomer on the list at 25 with personal net worth of US$2 billion.
With US$1.35 billion, Gordon Wu Ying-sheung, the chairman of Hopewell Holdings, returned to the list after an absence of two years. Another returnee was Lo Ka-shui, chairman of Great Eagle Holdings.
Investors in the gaming and retail sectors also got richer, with Lui Che-woo, chairman of K Wah Group, coming in at No 5 after his net worth rose from US$4.6 billion to US$9.5 billion last year.
Tycoons in the finance or commodity sectors lost ground. David Li Kwok-po, who chairs the Bank of East Asia, fell eight places to 30th with a fortune of US$1.75 billion and Richard Elman, founder of Noble Group, down nine places to 29th.