Rich list: HK, China dominate top 10

New World Development and Chow Tai Fook tycoon Cheng Yu Yung, who died in September, edges out Li Ka-shing as property billionaires dominate our top 10.

Since its inception, Li Ka-shing had topped FinanceAsia's annual rich list. Not this year.

Cheng Yu Tung, the late patriarch of the world’s largest jewellery retailer Chow Tai Fook and transport and property conglomerate New World Development, took the crown in our latest study.

Cheng, who died in late September aged 91, started his career as a gold-shop apprentice, married his boss’s daughter and then built a business empire with over 2,000 outlets in China and Hong Kong, earning revenue more than 70% higher than Tiffany & Co. in the latest fiscal year.

But despite falling sales as the number of mainland Chinese visitors to its Hong Kong shops declined, Chow Tai Fook paid a dividend this year worth 200% of earnings.

Henry Cheng has run New World Development as well as Chow Tai Fook since 2012, when his father retired. He plans to further diversify their operations into mainland China.

Joseph Lau retains the number two spot in the list, and continues to prosper from his 75% stake in Chinese Estates. An inveterate wheeler-dealer, Lau is still a fugitive from Macau justice after to being sentenced to five years and three months in jail for bribery and money laundering. Li retains third spot.

Breaking the run of Hong Kong property tycoons and ranking behind Li in fourth is Ratan Tata, who recently took back temporary control of the Tata Group after ousting Cyrus Pallonji Mistry.

The top 10
Leader of
the family
Companies Location Dividends in $m
%Change (Y-o-Y) Rank
1 Cheng Yu Tung Chow Tai Fook Jewellery, New World Development Hong Kong & Macau 1173.09 114.75% 5
2 Joseph Lau Chinese Estate Hong Kong & Macau 1147.91 -9.33% 2
3 Li Ka-shing CK Hutchison, Husky Energy, Cheung Kong Property Hong Kong & Macau 888.18 -48.24% 1
4 Ratan Tata Tata Sons India 808.85 -32.88% 3
5 Hui Ka Yan Evergrande Real Estate China 603.42 -14.41% 4
6 Wang Jianlin AMC Entertainment, Dalian Wanda Commercial Properties China 506.30 6.14% 7
7 Lee Shau Kee Henderson Land Hong Kong & Macau 470.80 59.57% 13
8 Kwok Brothers Sun Hung Kai Properties Hong Kong & Macau 374.84 -26.57% 6
9 Pan Shiyi & Zhang Xin Soho China China 364.52 171.74% 38
10 Merlin Bingham Swire Swire Pacific Hong Kong & Macau 358.16 305.61% 53

Ranking fifth is China's Hui Ka Yan, who controls the giant Evergrande real estate company, again the country’s richest person based on dividend income. He has stated his intention to relist his debt-ridden firm in Shanghai, believing Evergrande is undervalued on the Hong Kong exchange.

Former Red Army soldier Wang Jianlin (sixth) has continued the breathless expansion of his real estate and entertainment businesses.  The Dalian Wanda Group has taken on Hollywood and Disneyland through major acquisitions and developments in recent years. Wang also holds a 20% stake in Spanish football club Atletico Madrid.

Meanwhile, Pan Shiyi (ninth) and wife Zhang Xin leaped up the Rich List 100 due to generous pay-outs from their Soho China property company. The couple have not just limited themselves to Asia: they have made headlines with sizeable donations and purchases in the United States.

Three more Hong Kong property tycoons round out the top 10: Lee Shau-kee of Henderson Land; the Kwok brothers of Sun Hung Kai Properties; and Merlin Bingham Swire of the Swire Group conglomerate.

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See part one of the survey for full details of how we calculate our rich list. Tomorrow, we look at some of the big names dropping off our list.

¬ Haymarket Media Limited. All rights reserved.
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