Jan. 6 (Bloomberg) -- The combined wealth of Hong Kong’s top 40 richest people, led by Li Ka-shing, fell 7.4 percent to $151 billion last year from 2010 as China’s economic growth slowed and property prices dropped, Forbes Magazine said today.
Li, chairman of Cheung Kong (Holdings) Ltd., is Greater China’s richest person, with wealth estimated at $22 billion, 8.3 percent less than last year, Forbes said in a press release. Henderson Land Development Ltd.’s Lee Shau Kee replaced Sun Hung Kai Properties Ltd.’s Kwok family as Hong Kong’s second richest, with a personal fortune estimated at $17 billion, it said.
The net worth of Hong Kong’s wealthiest dropped in a year that the city’s benchmark Hang Seng Index fell 20 percent and property prices followed declines in China on a global economic slowdown. Property tycoons dominated the Hong Kong list, with more than one third of the top 40 wealthiest making the bulk of their fortunes from real estate.
“The fallout is clear in Hong Kong’s stock market and the new Hong Kong Rich List,” Russell Flannery, a senior editor at Forbes, said in the release. “This year’s list further underscores the deepening involvement of Hong Kong’s real estate industry in the mainland.”
Home prices in China fell for a fourth month in December after the government reiterated plans to maintain property curbs, according to SouFun Holdings Ltd. House prices in Hong Kong have fallen to an almost nine-month low, after surging about 70 percent from the beginning of 2009 to June 2011, according to an index compiled by Centaline Property Agency Ltd.
China’s economy grew 9.1 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier, the slowest pace since 2009, while Hong Kong’s gross domestic product increased 4.3 percent, the most sluggish pace in seven quarters.
New World Development Co. Chairman Cheng Yu-tung is the biggest gainer on the Forbes list. His wealth jumped $6 billion to $15 billion after an initial public offering of subsidiary Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group Ltd. last month, according to Forbes.
Cheng was the city’s fourth richest, after Sun Hung Kai Properties’ Thomas Kwok and Raymond Kwok, who have combined wealth of $15.4 billion, Forbes said.
SJM Holdings Ltd. Chairman Stanley Ho, who ranked No. 13 a year ago, with net worth $3.1 billion, was removed from the list this year after dividing his assets among family members. SJM Managing Director Angela Leong On Kei, mother of Ho’s youngest children and a beneficiary, debuted on the list with a wealth of $1.6 billion, Forbes said.
The minimum net worth to make the city’s 40 richest fell to $950 million from $1 billion a year earlier, Forbes said.
--Editors: Stan James, Tan Hwee Ann
To contact the reporters on this story: Stanley James in Hong Kong at firstname.lastname@example.org; Marco Lui in Hong Kong at email@example.com
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