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Li Ka-shing no longer Hong Kong's richest after two decades

Rival property tycoon Lee Shau-kee rises to top with $30.4bn

Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing waves goodbye after announcing his retirement as the chairman of CK Hutchison Holdings in March 2018.   © Reuters

HONG KONG -- Property tycoon Li Ka-shing has been surpassed as Hong Kong's richest person after 21 years at the top, edged out by the founder of another real estate group, a new ranking shows.

According to Forbes' 2020 list, Henderson Land Development founder Lee Shau-kee's wealth grew 1% on the year to $30.4 billion.

That puts the 92-year-old slightly ahead of Li, one year his junior, who saw his fortune shrink 7% to $29.4 billion, according to Forbes.

Nicknamed "Uncle Four" for being the fourth born in his family, Lee built a property-centered conglomerate spanning hotels, ferry services, natural gas distribution and other businesses in a single generation. 

He has been linked to U.S. billionaire Warren Buffett for his astute investments. The value of Lee's assets grew despite headwinds including the U.S.-China trade war and monthslong anti-government protests that hurt consumer spending and tourism in Hong Kong. 

CK Hutchison Holdings founder Li, meanwhile, appears to have taken a hit from falling share prices.

Ranking third in Forbes' Hong Kong billionaires list for 2020 is Henry Cheng, who heads property group New World Development and Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group. The 73-year-old's wealth, including family assets came in at $20.7 billion. 

Joseph Lau, the 68-year-old fugitive owner of Chinese Estates Holdings, ranked fourth with $16.9 billion. 

According to Forbes, 22 of the top 50 richest people in Hong Kong saw their wealth decline from a year earlier, but the combined worth of all 50 rose 7%.

Property billionaires made up most of the top ten. The only internet-related name, Alibaba Group Holding co-founder Joseph Tsai, ranked ninth with $11.5 billion.

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