Chinese Billionaire Family Quietly Expands Empire in Hong Kong

A mainland Chinese property family is quietly building a presence in Hong Kong by snapping up land plots and even a prominent local newspaper

Chinese Billionaire Family Quietly Expands Empire in Hong Kong Photo

Shenzhen-based Kaisa Group Holdings Ltd.’s Kwok Ying Shing has become one of the most active Chinese tycoons in Hong Kong with a flurry of new purchases. His moves underscore Chinese elites’ growing influence in the former British colony as its status as a global financial hub shows signs of waning.

Kaisa purchased four sites across the city for 7.1 billion yuan ($1.1 billion) in 2020, according to an exchange filing. One of its most recent investments was a 50% stake worth 3.2 billion yuan in a residential land plot in the up-and-coming Kai Tak neighborhood previously owned by beleaguered businessman Pan Sutong.

The family’s ambitions go beyond property. Kwok Hiu Ting, the patriarch’s daughter who is in her late 20s, agreed to buy a majority stake in one of Hong Kong’s most-circulated newspapers Sing Tao News Corp Ltd. earlier this year. The deal came as a surprise to many since both Kaisa and its young heiress were little known in Hong Kong.

To be sure, their presence remains small compared with the city’s homegrown property clans, who control industries from telecommunications to supermarket chains. But mainland companies are set to become more dominant as China’s recent assertive policies over Hong Kong give room for them to grow there.

The government in Beijing will welcome more Chinese firms expanding in Hong Kong to boost business sentiment and create job opportunities, according to Gary Ng, an economist at Natixis. “They will recruit more in Hong Kong to help the government stabilize the negative impacts of the current situation” both economically and politically, he said.

The flow of Chinese money is giving a boost to Hong Kong’s property market at a time when worries mount that capital may drain from the city. Global banks have been shedding office space in the prized business districts, while many residents are considering leaving for the U.K. under its new visa policy.

“The company sees attractive market potential in Hong Kong, one of the core cities of the Greater Bay Area and Kaisa Group is confident about Hong Kong’s prospect in the long term,” it said in a statement. The group will keep actively exploring investment and business opportunities in the area, Kaisa added.

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