Perhaps nothing better epitomizes the wild swings of Hong Kong's fortunes than the travails of Wong Kwan. A former chef who fled China during the Cultural Revolution, Wong made a bundle in local real estate and in 1996 paid a shocking $118 million for a pair of mansions on exclusive Victoria Peak. At that point, stock in his Pearl Oriental Holding Ltd. was flying high. But these days, Wong is saddled with collapsed property deals involving more than $290 million. He is scrambling to sell his Peak palaces and is suing a company that backed out of a property sale. Wong insists Pearl will pull through, but its stock is down 90% in 12 months.
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