A mainland real estate princess stepped up to queen this week as 31-year-old Chu Kut Yung was named Chairman of Hopson International Development Holdings, according to a stock exchange announcement on Monday.
Chu, whose name in Mandarin is Zhu Jurong, took the helm of the Hong Kong-listed developer as her father, Chu Mang Ye (Zhu Mengyi in Mandarin), stepped down as chairman after running the company since he founded the firm in 1992. The elder Chu also gave up his role as an Executive Director of the company.
The expanded role for Chu comes more than six years after she was name Vice Chairman, and moves her up the ranks of China’s second generation real estate royalty, alongside Country Garden Vice Chair Yang Huiyan and one-time controlling shareholder of Logan Property Holdings, Perenna Kei.
Record Sales Followed by New Leadership
The change in leadership took effect on 10 January with the company explaining that, “Mr. Chu decided to resign as the chairman of the Board and an executive director of the Company since he considered that after years of development, the management system of the Company has matured and the performance of the Group has been stable.”
During 2019 the Guangzhou-based developer grew its contracted sales to RMB 21.26 billion ($3.1 billion), an increase of 42 percent compared to the previous year. Although 2019 was Hopson’s biggest 12 months ever for sales, it still fell short of the RMB 40 billion target which the now former chairman had set at the beginning of the year.
The elder Chu will continue to be engaged with Hopson as a “strategy planning adviser,” according to the announcement.
Acquiring More Projects in More Places
In addition to setting a new sales record, during 2019 Hopson also entered into its first investment outside of China, agreeing just over one month ago to take over a stalled project in Midtown Manhattan.
Hopson agreed to pay $113.5 million to buy out the planned 34-storey tower at 131-141 East 47th Street – around four blocks southeast of Rockefeller Center — from a company controlled by the head of New York-based, Chinese-backed property firm New Empire Real Estate Development.
Closer to home, Hopson spent RMB 7.6 billion acquiring land during 2019, an amount which ranked it 91st among mainland developers for new land purchases during the period, and added sites in Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Beijing and Suzhou to its pipeline.
Guangdong Developers Keep It in the Family
For Hopson’s new chairman, Chu Kut Yung will be taking over Hopson, which had 2018 revenues of HK$13.3 billion ($1.7 billion), just over ten years after joining the company as her father’s assistant in 2009. The property heiress was made a vice president of Hopson in 2012 after being appointed to an Executive Director position on the board in 2011.
Chu Kut Yung’s ascent at Hopson has parallels to the prominent role that another Yang Huiyan has taken on at Country Garden, which like Hopson is Guangzhou-based. Yang, whose controlling shareholding in China’s largest developer gives her a personal fortune of an estimated $21.2 billion, was promoted to vice chair at Country Garden in 2018.
Perenna Kei, the daughter of Logan Property chairman Ji Haipeng, became famous as the world’s youngest billionaire in 2014, after her father transferred his 85 percent stake in the that Guangdong-based developer to the then 24-year-old just prior to Logan’s IPO.