Walter Kwok

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Kwok Ping-sheung, Walter
Chinese: 郭炳湘; pinyin: Guō Bǐngxiāng
Born 1950 (age 63–64)
Hong Kong
Residence Hong Kong
Occupation Formerly chairman and CEO of Sun Hung Kai Properties
Net worth US$17.0 billion (with brothers, as of March 2010)[1]
Spouse(s) Lydia Ku (1982)
Wendy Lee (? – present)
Parents Kwok Tak Seng (father)
Kwong Siu-hing (mother)
Relatives brothers: Thomas, Raymond

Kwok Ping-sheung, Walter JP (born 1950 in Hong Kong, with family roots in Zhongshan, Guangdong) is the eldest son of Kwok Tak Seng and Kwong Siu-hing. Together with brothers Thomas and Raymond, they inherited Sun Hung Kai Properties, Hong Kong's largest real estate developer, in 1990 following their father's death.

Walter, formerly chairman and CEO of that organisation, negotiated his departure from the family firm in 2010. His mother remains the controlling shareholder of the company, whilst his brothers manage the firm. The Kwok brothers are the third wealthiest people in Hong Kong and Greater China Region, just after Li Ka Shing and Lee Shau Kee. Their wealth is estimated to be 17 billion US dollars in Forbes' 2010 list of billionaires.[1]

Biography[edit]

According to the Standard, Kwok fell in love with an ambitious lawyer Ida Tong Kam-hing (唐錦馨), but his father did not allow him to marry her.

His parents introduced him to Lydia Ku, whom he married, but the marriage broke up six months afterwards. Later, he married his present wife, Wendy Lee.

1997 abduction[edit]

Kwok was kidnapped by the notorious gangster "Big Spender" Cheung Tze-keung on 30 September 1997,[2] and was released seven days later without police intervention. Negotiations fronted by wife Wendy resulted in payment of a ransom rumoured to have been in nine figures. Following his arrest in Guangzhou in 1998, Cheung confessed that he had put Kwok in a wooden container blindfolded for four days, and fed him regular meals of roast pork with rice, until the ransom of some HK$600 million was paid. The ransom in 1,000-dollar notes was packed inside 20 large carrier bags and driven in two Mercedes saloon cars to a quiet lane in Central district.[3] After the kidnap, the badly shaken Walter handed over the executive duties of SHKP to his younger brothers while retaining the title of chairman and chief executive.[4] His abductor was executed in the People's Republic of China in December 1998.

As a result of his kidnapping ordeal, Walter reportedly developed deep psychological problems, and while he retained the titles of chairman and chief executive, his two brothers Thomas and Raymond controlled day-to-day operations of the group.[5]

Under Walter's later chairmanship, press reported that a former girlfriend, Ida Tong, had become increasingly influential. This influence has led to business decisions by Kwok which departed from its previous conservative model, and without the consensus of his brothers.[6]

On 18 February 2008, Sun Hung Kai Properties issued a statement saying Walter would take a temporary leave of absence for personal reasons with immediate effect.[7] Walter later issued a statement stating he would take a personal holiday to travel to the United States, Beijing and other big cities in the coming two to three months. He said he would resume his duties on his return.[8]

Sing Tao Daily and sister publication The Standard reported that matriarch Mrs. Kwok Kwong Siu-hing, wielding the holding of the Sun Hung Kai trust, intervened to oust Walter from his chairman position to protect the family's interests. It was revealed that Ida's influence, through being Walter's mistress of four years, has been causing friction with his brothers.[8] On 29 February, tycoon and fellow board member Lee Shau Kee confirmed that, during the last board meeting, Mrs Kwok had forced the leave of absence on Walter. Lee further painted a picture of a lonely Walter, as only Ida would listen to him. In mid May 2008, Walter brought a lawsuit against his brothers, and persuaded a judge to enjoin a board meeting, saying that Raymond and Thomas had him diagnosed as bipolar disorder to sideline him and silence his criticism of certain business decisions.

In 2012, younger brothers Thomas and Raymond, as well as Rafael Hui, previously the second-highest ranking government official in Hong Kong, were arrested by the city's anti-corruption agency on suspicion of bribery. It has been suggested that Walter, who was not arrested, was the one who passed information to the authorities, supposedly in revenge for his ouster from Sun Hung Kai Properties a few years earlier.[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "The World's Billionaires (2010): No. 28 Kwok family". Forbes. 3 March 2010. Retrieved 20 February 2011. 
  2. ^ Two suspects Hong Kong door of the family were extortion was sentenced to 10 years. Chinesecivilization.org, 1 March 2011, retrieved 3 April 2011
  3. ^ Erick Ko and AFP, "Tough guy, likeable rogue", The Standard, 13 November 1998
  4. ^ Mary Ma, "Kwoks captive of own success", The Standard, 26 February 2008
  5. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-17752115.  Missing or empty |title= (help)[dead link]
  6. ^ Staff reporter, "My ex-wife fell for a Kwok", The Standard, 20 February 2008
  7. ^ Press Release:Leave of absence of Chairman and Chief Executive Sun Hung Kai Properties, 18 February 2008
  8. ^ a b Staff reporter, "Lover feud splits Kwok brothers", The Standard, 19 February 2008
  9. ^ "Who are the Kwok brothers?". BBC News. 18 April 2012. 

External links[edit]