Former financial secretary Antony Leung to join Nan Fung Group as CEO
Former financial secretary will stand down from his Blackstone position after helping the company open doors in the mainland market
Peggy Sito and Sandy Li
Former financial secretary Antony Leung Kam-chung is standing down as greater China chairman for United States-based Blackstone Group to join privately run Hong Kong-based property developer Nan Fung as chief executive in February.
Leung, Hong Kong’s finance chief from 2001 to 2003, would remain a senior adviser to the American private equity firm and a member of its international advisory board, the two companies said.
Leung joined Blackstone in 2007 to run its China office and help it break into the mainland market. In the same year, state-run China Investment Corporation bought a US$3 billion stake in Blackstone’s initial public offering, in a deal brokered by Leung.
“Today Blackstone is in a very strong position in China, with deep relationships across the firm on the mainland and in Hong Kong,” Blackstone chief executive, chairman and co-founder Stephen Schwarzman said in the announcement. “Antony played a major role in helping to build these relationships.”
Vivien Chen Wai-wai, Nan Fung’s chairwoman, said she hoped Leung would lead the company, founded in the 1950s, into an era of greater growth.
Before joining the government, Leung was JP Morgan Chase’s chairman in Asia and the head of north Asia investment banking at Citigroup. He resigned as financial secretary after it was revealed he had bought a luxury Lexus car ahead of announcing tax increases on new vehicles in the 2003 budget.
Nan Fung has been actively expanding on the mainland.
In July, the developer and affiliates announced it had agreed to acquire a 29.98 per cent stake in a Singapore-listed property trust, Forterra Trust, for an estimated S$203 million (HK$1.26 billion) in an illustration of its determination to expand its business operations.
Most of Forterra’s retail and office properties are in Shanghai. The trust also owns warehouses in Beijing and is developing a shopping centre in Qingdao. A project called The HQ in Shanghai’s Changning district is one of its major developments and expansion plans for the site include a 19-storey grade A office tower atop a seven-storey retail podium.
In 2006, Nan Fung teamed with HSBC to set up the HSBC NF China Real Estate Fund to develop property projects on the mainland.
It also joined hands with Sino-Ocean Land to acquire sites on the mainland after it became Sino-Ocean’s second-biggest shareholder in 2010.
The group has indicated it plans to increase its investments on the mainland, which currently account for about 30 per cent of its assets, with the rest in Hong Kong.
Nan Fung announced on Monday that it planned to release the first batch of 318 units at The Visionary development in Tung Chung at discounts of up to 22 per cent to bolster sales amid a depressed property market.