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Hong Kong's richest become poorer

Hong Kong’s three richest individuals are all family business owners but their fortunes declined last year as economic growth slowed in China, according to the city-state's latest rich list.
Hong Kong's richest become poorer

Hong Kong’s three richest individuals are all family business owners but their fortunes declined last year as economic growth slowed in China, according to the city-state's latest rich list.

Forbes magazine said Li Ka-shing, the 83-year-old chairman of family-controlled conglomerates Hutchison Whampoa and Cheung Kong Holdings, is Hong Kong’s wealthiest individual with approximately $22 billion (€17.2 billion) in assets. This represents an 8% decline from last year’s $24 billion.

Lee Shau Kee, chairman of property company Henderson Land Development, took the second spot with an estimated net worth of $17 billion, while the Kwok family, which controls real estate firm Sung Hung Kai Properties, ranked third with a combined fortune of about $15.4 billion.

The Kwoks have the fall in property prices to blame for their wealth dropping by almost a quarter from last year’s $19.5 billion.

But not everybody is getting poorer in Hong Kong. Cheng Yu-tung is the biggest gainer on the list, with $15 billion in assets, a 67% increase on last year's $9 billion. In 2011, his company, Chow Tai Fook, the world’s biggest jewellery chain by market capitalisation, had revenues of HK$ 35.04 billion (€3.5 billion), up 53% on the previous year.

Only six new individuals and families made the 40-strong rich list this year. These include Silas Chou and his family – the owners of fashion retailer Michael Kors, which was recently listed in New York – and Pollyanna Chu, who transferred her family's brokerage company Kingston Financial into her hotel and casino business Golden Resorts.

The two were ranked 30th and 32nd respectively, with estimated fortunes of $1.3 billion and $1.23 billion.

Another newcomer is the Yang family, which made the 37th spot. Owners of textile manufacturing company Esquel, the Yangs have about $1 billion in assets.

Together, Hong Kong’s 40 wealthiest people are worth $151 billion. This is 7% or $12 billion less than in 2010.

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