'Hong Kong's Warren Buffet', but No.2

'Hong Kong's Warren Buffet', but No.2

HONG KONG - "Nobody remembers who came in second," once remarked Charles Schulz, the master cartoonist who introduced that ultimate underdog, Charlie Brown, to the world.

'Hong Kong's Warren Buffet', but No.2

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    For much of his life, Mr Lee Shau Kee has sailed in at No. 2 after Hong Kong's richest man Li Ka Shing.

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    Financial perspicuity runs in his blood. Born in the southern Guangdong province to a gold trader and money changer, Mr Lee fled to Hong Kong when he was 20, just before the Communists took power on the mainland.

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    For a while, he dabbled in imports and exports, but dreamed big. Real estate, he determined, was the way to go. In 1958, he co-founded Sun Hung Kai Properties with Mr Kwok Tak Seng.

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    In 1976, he broke away to form his own company, Henderson, of which he remains chairman and managing director till today. His two sons Peter and Ka Shing are in place as vice-chairmen. As Hong Kong boomed, so did Henderson.

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    International Financial Centre Hong Kong

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    IFC is one of Hong Kong's most iconic buildings. Two ifc is the second tallest building in Hong Kong and the eighth tallest in the world.

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    Manulife Financial Centre, Hong Kong

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    This building was jointly developed by Henderson Land Development and Sun Hung Kai Properties

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    IFC (left) and Conduit 39 (right).

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    Conduit Road 39, one of Hong Kong's most luxurious residential towers.

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    World Financial Centre, Beijing

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    Henderson Metro, Shanghai Bund

For much of his life, Mr Lee Shau Kee has sailed in at No. 2 after Hong Kong's richest man Li Ka Shing.

Relatively small change separates the two. Mr Li is currently worth US$22 billion (S$28 billion) according to Forbes, while Mr Lee comes in at US$20.3 billion.

Well, in this town, it matters.

As businessman Robert Wang wrote in his memoirs Walking The Tycoons' Rope, "the difference between No. 1 and No. 2 is huge".

"The former gets all the attention; when prime ministers visit, they ask to see him. He gets all the media attention. He is sought after by money men. Deals are often presented to him on silver plates. He gets the first bite of the cherry."

But while the charismatic Mr Li nicknamed "Superman" holds court, Mr Lee - his moniker "Hong Kong's Warren Buffet" is perhaps more mortal but hardly shabby either - has made darn sure that nobody forgets who he is.

On Monday, he announced that he is personally donating 100,000 sq ft of farmland in Fanling, in the New Territories, for the construction of 1,000 affordable flats for first-time home buyers.

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