Li Zooms back to top of HK rich list

Top News | Bloomberg and staf reporter 26 Feb 2021

Billionaire Li Ka-shing has taken back his crown as Hong Kong's wealthiest person with US$35.4 billion (HK$275.4 billion) to his name thanks largely to a shareholding in video-conference provider Zoom.

His fortune surged by 20 percent despite some reverses on shares, Forbes Asia reported with its richest 50 people list.

That came with Property developer CK Asset and the more broad-based CK Hutchison falling by around 27 percent but Li's stake in US-listed Zoom rising about four times over.

Li now has 6.6 percent stake in Zoom worth US$7.4 billion after he transferred some shares to his second son Richard Li Tzar-kai last week.

He invested US$36.6 million in Series B and Series C funding through Horizons Ventures in 2013, accounting for 8.5 percent of Zoom's outstanding shares.

His CK Hutchison shares are worth around US$9.2 billion and those of CK Asset at US$7.8 billion. Li, who has retired from daily operations of companies, also has stakes in at least three technology firms, including medically-inclined Wellness Lifestyle, health drink producer Celsius and bioscience company ChromaDex.

He is also said to be planning to expand in dealmaking by listing a special purpose acquisition company, SPAC, in the United States. The aim is reckoned to be to raise around US$400 million, and with a company backed by Li's family working with advisers on the IPO the documents could go to the US Securities and Exchange Commission any day now.

Property tycoon Lee Shau-kee, who edged ahead of Li in wealth last year, saw his fortune relatively unchanged.

The majority owner of Henderson Land now ranks at second with US$30.5 billion.

Henry Cheng and family of New World Development added US$1.4 billion to their net worth of US$22.1 billion, retaining the third spot on the list.

This year's biggest gainers were husband and wife team Yeung Kin-man and Lam Wai-ying, who benefited from the soaring demand for smartphone glass covers from their company, Biel Crystal.

Their wealth more than doubled to US$18.6 billion, so they jumped six spots to No 4 on the list.

Biel Crystal is said to seek a listing in Hong Kong or the mainland in the third quarter to raise from US$2 billion to US$2.5 billion.

Wong Man Li of furniture maker Man Wah was this year's biggest gainer in percentage terms.

His net wealth jumped 200 percent to US$6.3 billion on a surge in demand for company's products in the mainland.

He ranks 14th. Ranked two places higher is Horst Julius Pudwill with US$6.7 billion.

His net wealth was up by 81 percent.

Shares in his Techtronic Industries jumped on booming sales of power tools and floor-care products - a performance that earned him pride of place on the cover of the current issue of Forbes Asia.

Lui Che-woo, chairman of property developer K Wah International and casino operator Galaxy International Group, came in fifth with US$17.8 billion.

More than half of the 27 listees who saw their fortunes decline this year were property tycoons, reflecting the real estate sector being hit hard by the pandemic.

But Peter Woo, ranked seventh with US$17 billion, who took his Wheelock & Co private last June, bucked that trend.

His wealth was up by 47 percent as the company had a 52 percent surge in value after ending its 57-year run as a listed company.

The combined wealth of tycoons on the 2021 Forbes Hong Kong Richest 50 List rose 7.5 percent to US$331 billion even as more than half saw a pandemic-induced drop in net worth.

Hong Kong's economy contracted 6.1 percent in 2020, its worst performance since 1998.

But stock gains provided some reprieve as the Hang Seng Index was up 5 percent since fortunes were last measured 13 months ago.

The minimum amount required to make the rich list was US$1 billion compared with US$1.2 billion last year.

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