Tycoon Li Ka-shing, who retired as chairman of his business empire last year, has kept his top spot on the latest Forbes’ Hong Kong rich list despite a fall in his wealth, while oyster sauce tycoon Lee Man-tat has made an impressive advance, according to the magazine’s latest ranking of the wealthy.
Li saw his net worth at US$31.7 billion (around HK$247.26 billion), making him the richest person in Hong Kong for the 21st year in a row, according to the 2019 Forbes Hong Kong Rich List released this week.
However, that represented an 11.9 percent decline from the previous year, when his wealth was estimated at US$36 billion.
Lee Shau-kee, chairman of Henderson Land Development (00012.HK), came in second on the list with a net worth of US$30 billion, down US$2.9 billion or 8.8 percent from the year before.
Lee Man-tat, chairman of Lee Kum Kee Group, a leading player in Hong Kong’s soy sauce industry, saw his ranking rise eight notches to the third place with a net worth of US$17.1 billion, more than double his estimated wealth of US$8.6 billion a year ago.
Lee is believed to have accumulated his wealth so fast was because his family profited greatly from its direct selling business.
The company developed its business of Chinese herbal health products and entered the mainland more than two decades ago, before expanding into Hong Kong, Southeast Asia and Canada, and then using the profits to invest in properties, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported.
Lui Che-woo, chairman of Macau casino operator Galaxy Entertainment Group (00027.HK), dropped from third to sixth on the list. His net worth fell 22.1 percent to US$14.8 billion.
Ranked No. 4 is Joseph Lau Luen-hung, former chairman of Chinese Estates Holdings (00127.HK), who moved up one spot with a net worth of US$17 billion, unchanged from the previous year.
Twenty-three of the 50 richest people in Hong Kong, or nearly half of them, saw their wealth fall in the past year due to multiple adverse factors, such as the softening of the local property market and China’s economic slowdown, although “20 others on the list managed to buck the downtrend”, according to a media release from Forbes.
Their combined wealth fell just over US$20 billion to US$286.75 billion last year, a marked contrast to the year before when they grew by US$60 billion to a combined US$307 billion, RTHK reported.
The biggest loser on this year’s list is Pollyanna Chu Lee Yuet-wah, chief executive of Kingston Financial Group (01031.HK), whose fortune plunged 73 percent to US$3.3 billion from US$12 billion and whose ranking fell sharply to No. 28 from 7th place.
Forbes said she dropped significantly “after shares of her company lost three-quarters of its value last year on a warning in January 2018 by the city’s Securities and Futures Commission that the firm’s shares were overly concentrated among a small group of investors”.
As a consequence, Chu’s spot as Hong Kong’s richest woman was taken over by Kwong Siu-hing, 89, the widow of Sun Hung Kai Properties’ (00016.HK) co-founder Kwok Tak-seng. Kwong made her debut on the list at No. 5 with a net worth of US$15 billion.
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