The long-running succession saga at Hong Kong billionaire Joseph Lau’s business empire began a new chapter this week with the elevation of Lau’s wife, Chan Hoi-wan, to CEO of Chinese Estates Holdings to replace her elder sister, Chan Sze-wan.
In a Wednesday filing with the Hong Kong stock exchange, the developer said Chan Sze-wan was stepping down as chief executive and executive director to devote more time to personal endeavours. Chan Hoi-wan, also an executive director, assumed the CEO role with immediate effect.
The promotion confers executive authority on Chan Hoi-wan, also known as Kimbie Chan, after various share transfers over the years gave her a 75 percent stake in China Estates Holdings, a fortune she holds in trust for her three children with Lau.
Chan Hoi-wan’s younger sister, Chan Lok-wan, also sits on the board as an executive director, while her stepson, Lau Ming-wai, and sister-in-law, Amy Lau, serve as non-executive directors.
A former Apple Daily reporter, Chan Hoi-wan, 41, joined the board of Chinese Estates as an executive director in 2017. She previously worked at a cosmetics division of Chinese Estates Group from 2002 to 2005.
In 2016, Chan married Joseph Lau, one of Hong Kong’s richest men. At the time, Lau held a 75 percent controlling stake in Chinese Estates Holdings.
In March 2017, the then 65-year-old Lau, citing his failing health, transferred a 50 percent stake in the firm to Chan, a shareholding worth HK$11.3 billion ($1.46 billion) at the time, while son Lau Ming-wai received a 25 percent stake. Last June, the son transferred his entire stake to his stepmother, boosting her ownership to a 75 percent stake worth about HK$7 billion.
Joseph Lau, who appeared to recover his strength after unloading his stake, remains a fugitive from justice after a 2014 bribery conviction in a Macau court.
Team of Rivals
Chan Hoi-wan made news earlier this month with the announcement that a Wharf Holdings-led consortium had won the tender for a luxury residential site in Hong Kong’s posh Peak district.
Chan and Thomas Lau, the chairman of retail operator Lifestyle International Holdings and brother of Joseph Lau, joined the investor group that made the winning bid of HK$7.25 billion for the site on Mansfield Road. The other partners in the purchase were Boswell Holdings, a private company controlled by Sino Land chairman Robert Ng, and Cheung Chung Kiu, the chairman of Hong Kong-listed, Chongqing-based developer CC Land.
The winning team secured the rights to develop up to 144,968 square feet (13,468 square metres) of gross floor area on the 54,541 square foot site under a 50-year leasehold.
The successful acquisition was announced just 48 days after Wharf had won the rights to an adjoining site, with the two plots together allowing for development of up to nearly 404,000 square feet of housing.