A gathering of tycoons: something's cooking

January 02, 2019 12:04
Power party: CC Land chairman Cheung Chung-kiu, Chinese Estates former chairman Joseph Lau, Alibaba chairman Jack Ma, and China Evergrande chairman Hui Ka-yan. Photo: Internet

From gloom to boom?

Just when almost everyone was so glad to bid adieu to 2018 – a quite horrendous year for stock punters the world over – a snapshot of four smiling Chinese tycoons joining a countdown party to welcome the new year circulated on social media.

Something must be afoot when four business biggies choose to get together for a year-end party. The photo shows, from left, CC Land (01224.HK) chairman Cheung Chung-kiu, Chinese Estates (00127.HK) former chairman Joseph Lau Luen-hung, Alibaba Group chairman Jack Ma Yun, and China Evergrande (03333.HK) chairman Hui Ka-yan.

If there is anything in common among these heavyweights, it is that they made lots of money in the stock market over the last 30 years.

Lau, an accomplished sniper for corporate takeovers and privatization, made a rare appearance after undergoing a life-threatening kidney transplant two years ago.

He looks refreshed and appears ready for another big deal with his two property business partners Hui and Cheung, who have turned low-key for quite some time now. 

The same cannot be said of Jack Ma, who, despite his plan to step down as executive chairman of his e-commerce giant in September, is expected to remain high profile – whether he eventually ends up returning to his old love, teaching, or plunges into the world of international politics.

There's little clue as to why Joseph and Jack are now hobnobbing with each other, except probably through Hui, who is a business ally of Lau and a partner of Ma at the Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao Football Club.

It was reported that Hui and Ma were able to cut a billion-yuan (US$145.7 million) deal for the football club four years ago over just one drink in their first encounter.

Or were these guys playing a big-time card game – dou dizhu (which literally means "fighting the landlord) or big two (the Hong Kong version) – for some of their spare millions?

Anyway, the party photo generated much talk, including speculation that the four tycoons might be planning to work together in 2019, an auspicious year for longevity after a bad year.

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but their picture together is certainly worth trillions.

This reminds us of a gathering of mainland internet tycoons, including Tencent (00700.HK) chairman Pony Ma Huateng, following the World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province, in 2017. It was dubbed "the 5 trillion yuan dinner", and rightly so.

Such meetings of moguls inspire ordinary stock punters like us, who continue to dream that after the dark days, a new dawn breaks.

-- Contact us at [email protected]


EJ Insight writer