Esprit’s former chairman grants US$115 million in shares to his two daughters, both in their 20s

Claudine Lauren Ying, 29, and the younger Eileen Ying, 20, now each own half of a HK$900 million fortune.

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 October, 2017, 9:24pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 July, 2018, 7:51pm

Hong Kong billionaire Michael Ying Lee-yuen, the former chairman of Esprit Holdings, has transferred all of the 211.8 million shares he owned in the fashion retailer worth HK$900 million (US$115 million), to his two daughters, both in their 20s.

Ying, the husband of former screen goddess Brigitte Lin Ching-hsia, transferred all the shares to a company called Total Market Limited on October 9, according to filings to the Hong Kong stock exchange.

His elder daughter Claudine Lauren Ying, 29, and the younger Eileen Ying, 20, own half of Total Market each, according to the filings. Neither have ever owned Esprit shares previously.

Esprit rose almost 1 per cent on Thursday to close at HK$4.27 per share, giving the 211.8 million shares being transferred a market value of HK$900 million, which means the pair of sisters can each pocket HK$450 million.

The transfer makes the Ying sisters the second-largest joint shareholder of Esprit, with a 10.97 per cent stake in the business, while Michael Ying no longer owns any shares.

The 67-year old Ying joined Esprit in the 1970s and played a key role in building it into a global brand.

He stepped down as head in 2006, and sold most of his stake in the clothing retailer by 2010. He currently has a net worth of about US$2.4 billion, according to Forbes estimates.

Claudine Ying, a mother who runs an early childhood education centre in Hong Kong, is the daughter of Ying and his ex-wife, renowned fashion designer Flora Cheong-Leen.

Former actress Lin married Michael Ying in 1994 and retired from acting thereafter. They have two children together, Eileen Ying and Melani Ying Yin Oi born in 2001.

For wealthy families in Hong Kong, an increasing number of tycoons are becoming more proactive in their succession planning, including pre-emptively bequeathing their fortunes while they’re still active and alive to avoid ugly family fights over estates.

Joseph Lau, Hong Kong’s fourth-richest man, transferred his 74.99 per cent shareholding in his property empire Chinese Estates, estimated to be worth HK$16.99 billion, to his wife Kimbie Chan Hoi-wan and son in March after he recovered from a kidney transplant.

Li Ka-shing, 89, for decades Hong Kong’s richest man, in 2012 appointed Victor Li, the elder of his two sons, to the helm of his flagship companies Cheung Kong (Holdings) and Hutchison Whampoa. Victor Li also received two-thirds of Li Ka-shing Unity Holdings, a family trust that controls stakes in 22 companies with combined interests valued at more than HK$430 billion.