Chow Tai Fook founder dies worth $15b

Cheng Yu-TungChow Tai Fook founder Cheng Yu-tung, who built a single Hong Kong gold shop into an affiliated group of companies worth more than $19 billion, has died at the age of 91.

He has reportedly left a $15 billion personal fortune gathered over nearly 50 years, mainly through real estate.

Founding New World Development in 1970, Cheng had interests in jewellery, property and gaming. It all started in Macau, where the native of Shunde in Guangdong province had fled in 1940 to escape the Japanese invasion of the mainland. He started working as an apprentice in the gold shop of a family friend.

After marrying the shop owner’s daughter, Cheng moved to Hong Kong to open a gold shop there in 1946. By ploughing the profits of his growing chain of gold shops into property, Cheng built New World into a Hong Kong-based real-estate giant. Its investments on the mainland have grown to a market capitalisation exceeding $12 billion. The group has an estimated $17 billion in assets in 24 provinces and municipalities, and New World has also been active in Southeast Asia through its Rosewood Hotel Group.

Chow Tai Fook, listed on the Hong Kong exchange in 2011, has more than 1000 jewellery shops in China, and a market capitalisation of more than $7 billion.

Cheng reportedly had a brain hemorrhage four years ago, when son Henry Cheng took over as chairman of New World.

“He spent the past four years in bed. He was unconscious,” Henry Cheng has told the press. The company says New World and Chow Tai Fook will continue operations as normal.


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