Eric Hotung dead at 91

Local | Phoenix Un 27 Sep 2017

Billionaire Eric Edward Hotung, the colorful eldest grandson of Robert Hotung, died aged 91.

His passing last Wednesday, was announced by his family in newspapers yesterday without any mention of funeral details.

The businessman-philanthropist, whose father was Robert Hotung's second son Edward Hotung and Irish mother Mordia O'Shea, was born in 1926 in Hong Kong, and had five sons and three daughters by his American wife Patricia Anne Shea.

He moved to Shanghai with his father when he was a child, and studied at Saint Francis Xavier's College. He returned to Hong Kong during World War II and worked in the accident and emergency room of Tung Wah Hospital.

After Hong Kong was occupied by the Japanese in December 1941 he was sent back to Shanghai and put under house arrest.

After the war he went to the United States in 1947 to continue his studies, remaining there to work after graduation.

With the deaths of his grandfather and father in 1956 and 1957, he returned to Hong Kong, inheriting and running the family business. He focused on imports and exports, real estate and finance, as well as charity schemes which funded Hong Kong students to study abroad.

He started working in diplomatic affairs in the 1980s using his connections in China and the United States to facilitate official and civilian-level communications between the two powers.

In 1998, he bought a former Royal Australian Navy survey ship so that East Timorese refugees could be repatriated from Indonesia. More than 12,000 were returned.

In 2002, East Timor made him an ambassador at large.

Last year Hotung lost a high-profile High Court case to reclaim shares worth an "unimaginable" amount he claimed he gave in trust to his former lover Winnie Ho Yuen-ki.

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