The ex-husband of the woman blamed for the Kwok family split last night spoke of his heartache.
Lau Kwok-lam told how his marriage to lawyer Ida Tong Kam-hing - who has known SHKP chairman Walter Kwok Ping-sheung for more than 20 years - ended in bitterness over the business thay ran.
The couple have three children, who are in their thirties.
Lau, a gynecologist-obstetrician, lived in Island South with Tong, who is in her fifties and whose parents run a textiles business.
The couple, who were financially independent in their own right, ran an electronics business before frequent quarrels over it led to the breakup.
"We would walk past each other like strangers," Lau told Sing Tao Daily, sister publication of The Standard.
When they broke up, he said, she took everything in the house, including their pictures.
Their son has a business in Japan. One daughter is a chef in France, and the other lives in Hong Kong.
Their children played with Kwok's when they were young.
Kwok, who is on a leave of absence from Sun Hung Kai Properties (0016), is said to have relied increasingly on the advice of the woman.
A source close to the family said daily group operations were mainly handled by Walter's two brothers Raymond Kwok Ping-luen and Thomas Kwok Ping-kwong.
Walter, who had become increasingly active in the business in the past couple of years, had a strategy that was becoming increasingly aggressive, the source said, and departed from the company's policy.
The source cited the acquisition of a project with a yield as low as 3.5 percent without consulting his two brothers.
Tong is said to have acted as a negotiator who struck deals with property brokers.
But in a statement last night SHKP said Tong was never an employee.
Communications between the three brothers increasingly broke down after Walter repeatedly struck deals without consulting his siblings.
For instance, it was reported that SHKP bought Oterprise Square for HK$2.07 billion in September but this was later denied by the developer. Market sources later said the buyer is a foreign company affiliated with a member of the Kwok family.
Meanwhile, market watchers were surprised by the SHKP development, but agreed it would not bring fundamental change to the group.
The leave will not have any material impact on the operations of SHKP given that his brothers will take over his duties, BOC Internatioal analyst Manfred Ho said.
The Standard did an exclusive story on Walter Kwok's surprise withdrawal from his top SHKP positions. SHKP spokeswoman Emily Hui refused to verify or deny the report.
But the developer issued an additional statement last night dismissing speculation in some media reports on the reasons behind Walter Kwok's sudden leave of absence.
Scrums of reporters were stationed outside Walter Kwok's residence in Deep Water Bay as well as at Sun Hung Kai Centre in Wan Chai yesterday.