A behind-the-scenes feud between second-generation members of the Kwok family has burst into the open. The Hong Kong-based Kwoks, owners of Sun Hung Kai Properties, have been arguing over who should run the $45 billion company. At the centre of the dispute is a fierce power struggle between the three Kwok brothers – Walter, Thomas and Raymond.
Chairman, CEO and eldest brother Walter (pictured centre with his brothers) has been on leave of absence since February when a board meeting was called to remove him. However, the meeting never took place as Walter agreed to his brother's demands and took a three-month leave of absence.
With the three months now up, a new board meeting was scheduled for yesterday to vote to terminate Walter's tenure. However, a successful eleventh-hour appeal by Walter to Hong Kong's High Court prohibited the meeting from taking place.
A spokesperson said the company was now seeking legal advice but that its day-to-day operations would continue as usual. In the meantime, Walter remains on leave of absence.
Media outlets are reporting the contents of court filings that reveal a bitter struggle between the three brothers. Walter is said to have claimed his brothers wanted to remove him because they have "repeatedly expressed disagreement" with his attempts to improve corporate governance at SHKP.
Thomas and Raymond are said to have claimed their brother suffers from "bipolar affective disorder". Walter counter claims that this diagnosis was made without his consent and was "heavily based on misinformation supplied by Thomas and Raymond."
The brothers are 10th on a list of 2008 wealthiest global families with a combined worth of $19.9 billion.