SINGAPORE (June 10): Can Hong Kong’s billionaire heirs keep their grip on the city? Given Beijing’s increasing assertiveness in the territory, it is a question worth asking. For the past five decades, Hong Kong’s family dynasties have controlled the city’s riches, largely thanks to their hold on some of the world’s most expensive real estate. Hong Kong has more ultra-rich individuals than any other city in the world — and eight of its 10 richest men (yes, they are all men) are directly involved in the property sector.

The last of Hong Kong’s “Big Four” property empires is now handing the reins to a younger generation, a cumulative transfer worth US$109 billion ($149 billion), according to Bloomberg reporters Venus Feng and Blake Schmidt. Lee Shau Kee, the city’s second- richest man, said last week that he is passing the baton at Henderson Land Development Co to his two sons, a year after Victor Li took over the empire of his father, and Hong Kong’s richest man, Li Ka-shing. The Cheng family of New World Development Co oversaw a succession in 2012. And at Sun Hung Kai Properties, where 66-yearold Raymond Kwok is chairman, a younger generation took over in 1990 after the death of founder Kwok Tak-seng.

These families have long benefited from close ties to the Hong Kong government and the city’s banks. But the younger set does not necessarily have the same political capital with Beijing.

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