Bloomberg Billionaires Index

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#392 Francis Choi $4.80B

Random fact: Member of the Hong Kong Jockey Club and owns racing horses.

Overview

Choi is founder and chairman of Early Light International, a closely-held conglomerate with interests ranging from real estate to toy manufacturing to healthcare. The Hong Kong-based company owns commercial buildings and residential property in Hong Kong and China. It also sells watches, repairs cars and runs kindergartens.

As of June 19, 2018:
Last change -$7.43k (0%)
YTD change -$7.39M (-0.1%)
Industry Real Estate
Biggest asset Hong Kong Property
Citizenship Hong Kong
Age 72
Wealth Self-made
View net worth over:   Max 1 year 1 quarter 1 month 1 week

Relative Value

Francis Choi's net worth of $4.80B can buy ...

0
troy ounces of gold
0
barrels of crude oil

... and is equivalent to ...

0%
of the GDP of the United States
0%
of the total wealth of the 500 richest people in the world
0%
of the top 100 U.S. college endowments
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of the top 200 U.S. executives’ total awarded compensation
0%
of U.S. existing home sales
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times the median U.S. household income

Latest News

Net Worth Summary

Cash
Private asset
Public asset
Misc. liabilities
Confidence rating:

The majority of Choi's fortune is derived from real estate holdings in Hong Kong and mainland China that are part of closely held Early Light International. 

The company doesn't disclose details about its financial results or ownership. All values in the analysis are based on information provided in the summer of 2016 by people familiar with the company who asked not to be identified because the information is private.

Those assets include at least four commercial buildings, dozens of residential properties and a shopping mall in Hong Kong, as well as commercial and residential properties in Chinese cities such as Shanghai and Zhongshan. The properties in Hong Kong are valued at $2.9 billion, according to the person familiar, while the buildings in China are valued at $1.7 billion. A Bloomberg analysis in August 2016 independently confirmed values for two of the commercial properties and one shopping mall.

Early Light also owns toy making and retail operations. The companies aren't valued in the analysis because financial information about them isn't available. Choi also owns a 9 percent stake in publicly traded medical service provider Town Hall International Medical Group, as well as 5.4 percent of hotel operator Regal Hotel, according to the annual reports for both companies.

Biography

Birthdate: 1945
Family: Married, 3 children
Education: Newport University, MBA Business Administration, Sussex College of Technology, Bachelor's Degree Harbin Institute of Technology, PhD

Choi Chee-ming, or Francis Choi, was born in 1945 in China's southern province of Guangdong. After graduating from junior school in Hong Kong, Choi started working as a salesperson in a toy company in 1969. He founded Early Light with two machines and twelve workers in a small warehouse three years later. The company built its reputation and success after it won a contract to make Snoopy dolls.

Early Light started to receive regular contracts from American toy giants in the 1970s. To save manufacturing and labor costs, Choi moved his factory to Shenzhen, the Chinese city across the border from the then-British colony in 1984. The company established another factory in the city of Shaoguan in 2006, and started to move its production base from Shenzhen to Shaoguan, where it was able to save as much as 15 percent in labor and production costs. With 20 million square feet of manufacturing space, the toy-maker now employs about 40,000 workers and supplies more than 30 toy lines for companies including Mattel Inc., Hasbro Inc. and Walt Disney Co.

Choi entered the real estate business in 1988 and gradually shifted his business focus to property investment because of declining profits from toy-manufacturing. Since the 1997 financial crisis, Choi has snapped up dozens of properties including car parks, retail shops, office blocks and luxury residential apartments. The company has developed into a conglomerate spanning manufacturing, property, watch retail and healthcare.

Choi received a doctoral degree of business management from Harbin Institute of Technology in 2001. He lives in Hong Kong with his family.

Milestones
  • 1945 Francis Choi is born in Guangdong, China.
  • 1969 Works as a salesperson at a toy company.
  • 1972 Founds toy maker Early Light in a Hong Kong warehouse.
  • 1984 Relocates manufacturing to Shenzhen, China.
  • 1994 Acquires a U.S. electronic toy car maker.
  • 1997 Founds E. Lite Property, the group's real estate unit.
  • 2006 Moves manufacturing to Shaoguan, China.
  • 2010 Acquires Halewinner Watches, a luxury watch retailer in Hong Kong.