HK's super rich took a $27b beating in 2018: Forbes, Latest World News - The New Paper

HK's super rich took a $27b beating in 2018: Forbes

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Slowing economy, trade war, cooling property market helped wipe out $27 billion from their fortunes

HONG KONG China's slowdown, trade tensions, stock plunges and a softening of the world's least affordable property market helped wipe some US$20 billion (S$27.1 billion) from the fortunes of Hong Kong's wealthiest last year, Forbes has reported.

The southern Chinese financial hub combines entrenched income inequality with one of the highest concentrations of billionaires in the world.

But the ultra-wealthy had an uncharacteristically tough year, according to the latest list of the city's 50 richest tycoons published by Forbes.

The group's combined wealth fell just over US$20 billion to US$286.75 billion, a marked contrast to the year before when it grew by a collective US$60 billion to US$307 billion.

Hong Kong's wealthiest man Li Ka-shing, who has dominated the list ever since it first came out in 2008, saw some US$4 billion wiped off his wealth. But with US$32 billion, he still remains ahead of property magnate Lee Shau Kee on US$30 billion.

Ms Pollyanna Chu, one of the city's most prominent female entrepreneurs, witnessed the sharpest decline in personal fortune - a 75 per cent drop to US$3.3 billion.

Her wealth via financial powerhouse Kingston Financial was especially vulnerable to the torrid trading on Hong Kong's stock market which plunged 9.4 per cent last year.

Galaxy Chairman Lui Che-woo lost US$4.2 billion while Macau casino share prices significantly dented the fortunes of Ms Pansy Ho and her younger brother, Mr Lawrence Ho.

Analyst Dickie Wong from Kingston Securities said the wealth of the city's tycoons was often intimately linked to the stock market.

But he added there were other headwinds on the horizon. "The slowing down (of China's) economy and the trade war between China and the US will remain key uncertainties if we talk about the economy and the stock market this year," he said.

Trade tensions have already hit some of Hong Kong's wealthiest.

Husband-and-wife team Yeung Kin-Man and Lam Wai Ying of Biel Crystal, the largest maker of iPhone screens, saw their net worth plunge some US$6.4 billion, or 57 per cent. Apple has seen sluggish sales recently, particularly in China.

After a decade of growth, Hong Kong's overheated property market has begun to cool with prices falling by some 10 per cent in the last four months. Many analysts predict further drops as trade tensions between Washington and Beijing continue to buffet confidence.

One winner from the last year was oyster sauce tycoon Lee Man-tat, whose wealth doubled to US$17.1 billion, making him the city's third richest tycoon.

Forbes compiles the estimates of personal wealth using information from the individuals, stock exchanges, private databases, government agencies and other sources. - AFP