HONG KONG: Two sons of the late Hong Kong billionaire Walter Kwok have between them inherited a $3.1 billion stake in developer Sun Hung Kai Properties Ltd.
Geoffrey and Jonathan Kwok are beneficiaries of a trust with 211 million shares, held via a structure that includes British Virgin Islands-based holding companies Asporto Ltd. and Fortress Gold Ltd., filings to the Hong Kong stock exchange show. The filings don’t disclose the exact shareholding of each son.
Representatives of Sun Hung Kai didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
A South China Post story from 2012 said that Geoffrey studied for a master’s at Stanford after a stint working at Sun Hung Kai, while Jonathan studied in New York, and their sister worked in Singapore. Their father, Walter Kwok, passed away in October aged 68 after suffering a heart attack.
His Nov. 1 funeral at St. John’s Cathedral in downtown Hong Kong drew many of the city’s elites. Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam and Li Ka-Shing sent wreaths.
Walter Kwok’s wealth transfer is the latest in a family saga that includes a kidnapping, fallouts and corruption trials.
Walter Kwok was the oldest of three sons who inherited the fortune of Kwok Tak-seng, a grocery wholesaler from Guangdong province, China, who immigrated to Hong Kong after World War II.
Kwok Tak-seng joined Fung King-hey and Lee Shau Kee to found Sun Hung Kai Properties in 1963. The company sold shares in an IPO in Hong Kong in August 1972 and became one of the world’s largest real-estate developers by market value.
Sun Hung Kai’s business has since stretched into other areas including logistics and telecommunications.
The three sons — Walter, Thomas and Raymond — took over the company after their father died from a heart attack in 1990. Walter, also known by his Chinese name Ping-sheung, ran the company until 2008. He was kidnapped in 1997 by a Hong Kong gang leader nicknamed “Big Spender,” who also held Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing’s son Victor Li for ransom.
A public family squabble led to Walter’s extended leave and, subsequently, his ouster as chairman in 2008. Walter said Thomas and Raymond had him removed from his position because they thought he was suffering from a mental illness, which he denied.
Hong Kong’s Standard newspaper reported Walter was forced to go on leave after a disagreement with his brothers over a female friend’s growing influence in the company. He later sued his siblings for libel.