TYCOON Albert Yeung Sau-shing has an intriguing background. The chairman of Emperor Group, with interests in watches, gold, securities and property, has connections ranging from showy film stars to officials in the governments of various countries. One of the manifestations of his flair for cultivating friends was a lavish banquet he threw in the winter of 1992 in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing to celebrate a deal between Emperor and the Justice Department's investment arm. Yeung said he had known officials from the Justice Department for years. Among the guests were other senior mainland officials. In January last year, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen was asked to attend a press conference in Hong Kong to present Yeung with a licence to open a bank in Phnom Penh. One of Emperor's heavy-weight connections is former Australian prime minister Bob Hawke, who was appointed non-executive director of the group. In Hong Kong, Yeung was a close friend of the late tycoon Sir Shiu-kin Tang. His contacts in show business include Jackie Chan, with whom Emperor has teamed up in association with other actors and singers to build an entertainment complex in Shanghai. Yeung has a daughter married to film producer, director and actor Alfred Cheung Kin-ting. In the early 1980s, the sometimes flamboyant Yeung was a high-flying member of the territory's racing fraternity and a race-horse owner. Emperor's history follows the classic pattern set by many family-run Hong Kong companies. The Yeungs come from Chiu Chow in Guangdong. The business started in 1942 with the launch of a watch and clock shop in Kowloon. Emperor Watch and Jewellery Co was formally set up in 1962. That small concern has since grown into a diversified group with a multitude of subsidiaries and associates locally and overseas. The group went into financial services in 1978 with the purchase of a Singapore foreign exchange and bullion trading company. It entered the Hong Kong market the following year, adding securities and futures trading. It had also expanded into commercial and residential real estate. Yeung owns about 34 per cent of Emperor International, the group's primary listed vehicle. Other listed companies related to the group include Emperor (China Concept) Investments, Lolliman Holdings and Hong Kong Daily News. Emperor Investment obtained a back-door listing on the Stock Exchange in 1990 when Yeung acquired a major shareholding in listed company Parisco International (Holdings), which later changed its name to Emperor Investment.