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Henry Cheng

Henry Cheng Kar-shunGBMGBS (Chinese: 鄭家純; born 11 December 1946) is Hong Kong’s billionaire property developer.

Cheng is the elder son of Cheng Yu-tung, who founded Hong Kong-listed New World Development, of which Henry succeeded his father as chairman. Cheng is Chairman of NWS HoldingsNew World China Land, and New World Department Store China. He is also a Standing Committee Member of the Eleventh Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.

In the 2012 Chief Executive election in Hong Kong, Cheng initially supported Henry Tang but switched to support the eventual winner, Leung Chun-ying. When Leung’s second Secretary for DevelopmentPaul Chan, became embroiled in a property and credibility scandal, similar to the first, Mak Chai-kwong. Cheng was the first public figure to offer support.

Cheng has six children (from oldest to youngest): Adrian, Sonia, Brian, Christopher, Chak-wang and Chak-yin.

In 2016, Henry Cheng donated RMB$300 million to China Internet Development Foundation to support cyber security training.

He was awarded the Grand Bauhinia Medal (GBM) by the Hong Kong SAR Government in 2017.

The majority of the Cheng fortune is derived from a 69% stake in Chow Tai Fook Jewellery, a Hong Kong-based jeweler. His family owns the stake through their control of two holding companies, according to the company’s 2022/2023 annual report. He also controls 35% of property developer New World Development, according to its June 2023 filing.

Henry Cheng and his three siblings control the two publicly traded companies through closely-held Chow Tai Fook Enterprises, which was owned by their father, Cheng Yu-tung, until he died in September 2016. The siblings have a 77% stake in Chow Tai Fook Enterprises through their ownership of Cheng Yu Tung Family (Holdings) and Cheng Yu Tung Family (Holdings II), according to Hong Kong stock exchange filings. 

The split among the siblings isn’t known and the billionaire is credited with the assets because he’s chairman of the family’s flagship companies. Cheng is also credited with the value of his father’s cash investments at the time of his death, which is based on an analysis of market performance, dividends and taxes.

The family owns stakes in a number of other publicly traded companies, including a 5% stake in Macau-based casino operator SJM Holdings, and 19% of Hong Kong-based apparel retailer Giordano International.

A spokeswoman for New World Development, who asked not to be identified, said the company declined to comment on the family’s holdings or the ownership breakdown between the siblings.

Biography

Education: Johnson & Wales University, University of Western Ontario

Henry Cheng was born in Hong Kong in 1946, the eldest son of billionaire Cheng Yu-tung. His parents had moved that same year to the then-British colony from Macau to expand their jewelry business, Chow Tai Fook, which had been established by Henry’s grandfather in 1929.

Henry studied at the Salesian School in Shau Kei Wan and later moved to Canada where he earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Western Ontario’s Richard Ivey School of Business.

His father used the profits from the family’s jewelry business to expand into property in the late 1950s and early 1960s, he said in a 2009 interview with analysts at CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets. He acquired more real estate beginning in May 1967, when the Cultural Revolution spread to Hong Kong, and again following the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989.

Cheng senior established the property developer New World Development in 1970 and held its initial public offering in Hong Kong two years later. Some of his projects included the New World Centre, a retail-hotel-residential-office complex in Kowloon, followed by the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in the mid-’80s.

Henry was appointed a director in 1972, became managing director in 1989. When he first took over the family business, he kicked off a series of acquisitions, including the purchase of the Ramada hotel chain and Wing On (Holdings) Ltd. That drove up the family empire’s debts so high that the founder stepped back in and sold some assets. His father retired as chairman for the second time at age 86 in 2012.

Meanwhile, their jewelry company Chow Tai Fook has grown from one Beijing store in 1998 to 1,500 outlets in China in 2011. The jewelry chain went public in December 2011, selling a 10.5% stake that raised $2 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The billionaire lives with his wife and family in Hong Kong. His father died at age 91 in September 2016. He has three siblings with whom he shares the family fortune.

Milestones

  • 1925 Father Cheng Yu-tung is born in Shunde, Guangdong province.
  • 1929 Grandfather establishes Chow Tai Fook in Macau.
  • 1946 Henry is born in Hong Kong.
  • 1970 Cheng Yu-tung establishes New World Development.
  • 1972 Henry becomes a director at New World Development.
  • 2005 Donald Trump sues Henry and Vincent Lo for $1 billion.
  • 2011 Chow Tai Fook holds initial public offering in Hong Kong.
  • 2014 New World’s $2.4 billion plan to take China unit private collapses.
  • 2017 Joins consortium investing in I-Cable, a pay-TV system operator.

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