Date
6 December 2016
Joseph Lau and Kimbie Chan have announced marriage plans, days after Lau declared publicly that he has cut off ties with a former girlfriend. Photo: Baidu, HKEJ
Joseph Lau and Kimbie Chan have announced marriage plans, days after Lau declared publicly that he has cut off ties with a former girlfriend. Photo: Baidu, HKEJ

Get set for a new entry in Asia super-rich women list

It’s no fairy tale, but just a love and money story with a happy ending.

A week after he placed front-page adverts to announce that he was snapping ties with ex-girlfriend Yvonne Lui, we have news that tycoon Joseph Lau is planning to marry his other girlfriend, Kimbie Chan.

Lau and his long-time partner Chan are said to have filed a notice of intended marriage on Nov. 18, three days after Lau’s headline-grabbing declaration of the break-up with Lui.

The marriage registration filing, made in Lau’s typical unpredictable style, will bring to an end days of fevered speculation as to who will inherit the property magnate’s multi-billion dollar fortune.

In interviews after taking out the ads regarding the separation from Lui, Lau praised Chan, saying that she has never asked him for money and that she is a kind person.

In contrast, Lui, it is alleged, was a greedy woman who was looking to get more from Lau despite receiving more than HK$2 billion in cash, jewelry and other gifts during the course of their relationship until 2014.

“Kimbie does not care about money,” Lau told Apple Daily. “She is simple… and has taken good care of me and my children with kindness.”

Now, it’s somewhat ironic that Lau, a person known for wooing his women through property giveaways, has decided to settle down with a lady who doesn’t care much about his money.

There is a moral lesson in all this.

For a man who has been swimming with sharks all his life, what Lau treasures most now in a companion is honesty, if one were to go by his pronouncements.

The 65-year-old property billionaire, who has been convicted in a high-profile Macau bribery case, is recovering from a kidney transplant and needs a caring partner.

Despite having a string of affairs, the tycoon hasn’t entered into wedlock with any woman since his divorce from Theresa Po Wing-kam in 1992, ending a 15-year marriage.

According to reports, Lau met Lui, a former beauty pageant contestant, at a Louis Vuitton store in London in 2001 when she was working as a part-time saleslady while pursuing some studies.

The pair had two children together but didn’t enter into matrimony. The relationship broke down irretrievably in 2014 following Lau’s dalliances with other women. 

Among his many girlfriends, Lau met Chan in 2002 when she was working an entertainment reporter for Apple Daily.

A story goes that during their first-ever encounter, Chan jabbed her finger at a mole on the forehead of Lau to see if it was for real. 

Lau, who is known to be a cleanliness freak, was said to have been taken aback by the move, but he developed a curiosity about the young woman. 

Chan later quit her job and became involved with Lau. In 2008, she gave birth to their first daughter.

Now, with the relationship set to be taken to the next level through marriage, Chan is going to become an immensely wealthy lady. 

She will inherit a substantial portion of the Lau estate, which according to some estimates could be worth more than HK$100 billion.

That will make her far richer than her former boss Jimmy Lai, whose Next Media flagship is now valued at less than HK$1 billion in the market.

It is not easy to put a precise figure on Lau’s net worth, given that he has orchestrated many transactions in the last three years in his main listed flagship, Chinese Estates Holdings.

Chinese Estates, which is owned nearly 75 percent by Lau, now has a market capitalization of about HK$27 billion.

The company sold off assets worth more than HK$45 billion in recent years, and the controlling shareholder received over HK$35 billion in dividends.

The cash windfall probably explains why Lau’s name always crops up in stories related to corporate extravagance, be it purchase of a private Dreamliner jet or grabbing expensive items at Sotheby’s auctions.

Turning our attention back to Chan, the 37-year-old woman is understandably very excited at the upcoming marriage.

Responding to a congratulatory note, she told Apple Daily that “it is the happiest moment” in her life.

Now, don’t be surprised if you see the former paparazzi make it to Forbes’ list of Asia’s richest women sometime soon.

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BK/AC/RC

EJ Insight writer

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