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# Cheng Yu Tung

Random fact: Through New World Development, owned the Carlyle Hotel in New York.

Overview

Cheng was the co-founder and majority shareholder of Chow Tai Fook Jewellery, the world's largest jeweler. The Hong Kong-based company is part of a conglomerate that had been controlled by Cheng. He retired in 2012 and appointed his son, Henry, as chairman of Chow Tai Fook and New World Development, a real estate company. The billionaire died in September 2016.

As of Jan. 21, 2018:
Last change ()
YTD change ()
Industry Retail-Jewelry
Biggest asset N/A
Citizenship Hong Kong
Age 91
Wealth Self-made
View net worth over:   Max 1 year 1 quarter 1 month 1 week

Relative Value

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Net Worth Summary

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Biography

Birthdate: 8/26/1925
Family: Married, 4 children

Cheng was born in 1925 in the city of Shunde in Guangdong province, the son of a tailor. After graduating from primary school in 1940, Cheng fled war-torn China for Macau, the only neutral port in South China after the Japanese invaded Hong Kong. The 15-year-old got his first job as an apprentice at the gold shop of family friend Chow Chi Yuen, who had founded Chow Tai Fook in 1929. Three years later, his boss became his father-in-law after Cheng married Chow's daughter, Tsui Ying. It was a marriage arranged by their fathers.

He moved to Hong Kong from Macau to open a store in 1946. That year Hong Kong's population doubled from 750,000 to almost 1.5 million. The jewelry chain expanded with the populace, as Chinese culture associates gold with good luck and prosperity. Consumers traditionally purchased 24-carat gold ornaments, which Chow Tai Fook specialized in, as gifts for holidays, weddings and birthdays. The population climbed to more than 2 million by 1950 as refugees fled Communist China for the British colony. The profits Cheng made from jewelry were then used to fund property purchases. Hong Kong experienced an industrial revolution in the 10 years to 1966. The number of factories surged threefold to 8,941. By then, the population had climbed to 3.6 million, propelling the demand for housing and real estate.

In May 1967, the Cultural Revolution spilled over from China into Hong Kong as pro-Communist leftists rioted against British rule, leading to 51 people killed and 800 injured. Real estate plunged 71 percent. Cheng bought property during the aftermath and repeated the feat after the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. Cheng entered into progressively larger property deals. He formed his flagship conglomerate New World Development in 1970, and started the New World Centre, a retail-hotel-residential-office complex in Kowloon, followed by the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in the mid-'80s.

Meanwhile, Chow Tai Fook grew from one Beijing store in 1998 to 1,500 outlets in China in 2011 as the world's second-largest economy surged and consumer buying power jumped. He took the jewelry chain public in December 2011, selling a 10.5 percent stake and raising $2 billion. The billionaire announced his retirement in February 2012 at age 86, naming his son Henry as chairman of New World Development.

He resigned as chairman and executive director of real estate company Melbourne Enterprises in March 2015 due to his health condition.

Milestones
  • 1925 Born in Shunde, Guangdong Province, China.
  • 1929 Chow Tai Fook gold shop founded by Chow Chi Yuen.
  • 1940 Cheng works for Chow as an apprentice in Macau.
  • 1943 Marries Chow Tsui Ying, his boss's daughter.
  • 1946 Moves to Hong Kong and opens more stores there.
  • 1970 Creates New World Development.
  • 2011 Chow Tai Fook Jewellery raises $2 billion in IPO.
  • 2013 Buys stake in operator of China's biggest airport from Singapore's GIC.
  • 2014 New World's $2.4 billion plan to take China unit private collapses.
  • 2015 Resigns as Melbourne Enterprises chairman due to health reasons.