Seven of Hong Kong’s ten wealthiest people and almost half of the city’s top billionaires made their fortunes in real estate, according to the latest annual ranking of the city’s 50 richest people by Forbes.
Thanks to a roaring real estate market and a 37 percent leap in the Hang Seng Index, the combined wealth of Hong Kong’s fifty richest people surged by $60 billion to $307 billion during 2017.
Property developers, including five individuals and a pair of brothers, take the top six slots among the city’s most affluent. Still perched at the top of the heap is Li Ka-shing, the chairman of CK Asset Holdings, who is known as “Superman” for the investment prowess that has brought him a fortune of $36 billion.
Li’s fellow 89-year-old, Lee Shau Kee, comes in second place with a net worth of $32.9 billion. Lee is also the billionaire whose net worth grew the most last year, by $9.3 billion, or 39 percent — driven by rising shares in his Henderson Land and his stakes in growing mainland firms Country Garden and Ping An Insurance.
Wealth of Hong Kong’s Six Richest Developers Equals 42% of GDP
Together with K Wah International’s Lui Che Woo, Sun Hung Kai Properties’ Kwok brothers, Chinese Estates’ Joseph Lau and Wheelock Properties’ Peter Woo, the six property developers have assets that collectively total $135.7 billion — equivalent to 42 percent of Hong Kong’s GDP in 2016.
Newcomer to the list Henry Cheng, son of the late tycoon Cheng Yu-tung, ranked 49th with a net worth of $1.3 billion. His father, the founder of New World Development, was Hong Kong’s third-richest when he died in 2016.
Hong Kong saw more than $54 billion in total real estate transactions last year, making the city the second-largest urban property market in the world, according to a report by Colliers International.