Hong Kong’s Property Tycoons Drop $2.2 Billion in Wealth

Hong Kong’s Richest Property Tycoons Drop $2.2 Billion in Wealth
The HSBC Main Building lights up the skyline during the nightly light show called 'Symphony of Lights' in Hong Kong. Hongkong Electric Holdings Ltd., is the utility controlled by billionaire Li Ka-shing. Photographer: Dale de la Rey/Bloomberg

The six richest property developers in Hong Kong lost a combined $2.2 billion in net worth today as shares in their companies dived after the government imposed a property tax on overseas buyers.

The wealthiest man in Asia, Li Ka-shing, saw his net worth decline $748 million to $26.3 billion from Friday, as shares in Cheung Kong Holdings Ltd. slid 4.7 percent at the end of trading in Hong Kong, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Henderson Land Development Co. Chairman Lee Shau-kee dropped $462 million to $22.7 billion. New World Development Co. founder Cheng Yu-tung slid $188 million to $17.3 billion.

The city ordered its third set of property curbs in two months after home prices almost doubled over three years to become the world’s most expensive. Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, who vowed to halt a housing bubble when he ran for office this year, imposed the first property tax aimed at overseas investors, a 15 percent duty upon purchase, on Oct. 26. A resale tax was raised by about 5 percentage points.

“It’s time to sell” property stocks, Andrew Lawrence, Hong Kong-based analyst at Barclays Plc, wrote in an Oct. 27 report. “The government has finally become serious about demand-side measures.”

Other Hong Kong property magnates also suffered losses. Robert Kuok, who controls 55 percent of Kerry Properties, fell $202 million to $13.5 billion. Sun Hung Kai Properties co-chairmen Thomas and Raymond Kwok lost a combined $594 million to $15.8 billion. The brothers were charged with bribery in July by the city’s Independent Commission Against Corruption. The Kwoks deny wrongdoing. A court hearing is scheduled for Jan. 25.

The city’s home prices are 65 percent higher than Tokyo’s, the world’s second-priciest place to buy a home, according to a study by Savills Plc published last month that compares prices in 10 global cities including New York and London.

The Bloomberg Billionaires Index takes measure of the world’s wealthiest people based on market and economic changes and Bloomberg News reporting. Each net worth figure is updated every business day at 5:30 p.m. in New York. The valuations are listed in U.S. dollars.

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