Billionaire population of Hong Kong halved by global slump
The number of billionaires in Hong Kong has plunged by more than 50 per cent in the past year as the superwealthy are hammered by the global economic downturn, a survey found Thursday.
There were 19 US-dollar billionaires at the beginning of 2009 compared with 40 at the same time last year, the annual "rich list" compiled by Forbes Asia magazine found.
Hong Kong's richest man, 80-year-old property tycoon Li Ka-shing, held on to his number one ranking but saw his wealth tumble by more than a half to 16.2 billion US dollars, the study found.
The Kwok family, owner of Sun Hung Kai Properties, stayed second but saw its net worth plummet 55 per cent to 10.8 billion US dollars. In third place was Lee Shau Kee, 81, owner of Henderson Land, who saw his fortune fall from 14 billion to 9 billion US dollars.
The biggest loser, however, was Macau casino magnate Stanley Ho, 87, whose net worth nosedived 89 per cent to 1 billion US dollars, sending him crashing from fifth in last year's list to 19th place.
One upside of the recession is that it has become a lot easier to get on the rich list with the minimum net worth to achieve a ranking falling from 1 billion US dollars last year to 485 million US dollars this year.
"Hong Kong's openness has helped it thrive in good times," said Russell Flannery, a senior editor with Forbes. "Yet, today, when so many major economies in the world are in recession, it's tough for Hong Kong to avoid taking a hit along with everyone else."
Hong Kong, which once boasted the largest per-capita number of Rolls Royce cars, is one of the world's wealthiest - and most expensive - cities and is home to some of Asia's richest tycoons, dpa reported.