Lee Shau-kee is a renowned Hong Kong-based billionaire, known globally as a successful business magnate, investor, and philanthropist. He has made significant contributions to the real estate industry and is best recognized as the founder and chairman of Henderson Land Development, a property conglomerate with extensive investments in Hong Kong, mainland China, and beyond.
Lee Shau-kee was born on January 29, 1928, in Shunde, Guangdong province, China. The son of a gold trader, Lee grew up in a modest family. When the Second Sino-Japanese War broke out in 1937, his family moved to Hong Kong for safety, and it was here where he spent most of his early life. He completed his early education in Hong Kong, showing a strong interest in business from a young age. The lack of opportunities during wartime shaped his drive for success and instilled a deep-seated resilience in him.
Lee is the proud father of five children, including his eldest son, Peter Lee Ka-kit, and his younger son, Martin Lee Ka-shing. In addition, he is the doting grandfather to eight grandkids.
Lee started his career as a currency and gold trader but switched to real estate as he foresaw a profitable future in this sector. He first ventured into property investments in 1958 and made substantial gains, which paved the way for the establishment of Sun Hung Kai Properties, co-founded with Kwok Tak-seng and Fung King-hey. Under his leadership, the company flourished and became one of Hong Kong’s leading property developers.
However, Lee left Sun Hung Kai Properties in 1973 due to differences with his partners. He started his own company, Henderson Land Development, the same year. Despite facing various challenges, his adept business acumen and foresight led the company to success, with it now being one of the largest real estate developers in Hong Kong. Today, the company’s operations extend into diverse fields such as properties, hotels, restaurants, and internet services.
Lee has always been a huge backer of the HKICC Lee Shau Kee School of Creativity. He’s poured in more than HK$20 million via his own Lee Shau Kee Foundation. Very early on, in 1982, he established the Pei Hua Education Foundation and he has been dedicated to his philanthropy ever since.
Rewind to 2007, and you’ll find him making some hefty donations to higher education. He gave a solid HK$500 million to the University of Hong Kong and another HK$400 million to the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.
Fast forward to 2015, Lee donated some land in Yuen Long to a charity called Po Leung Kuk. Their goal was to build the largest youth hostel in all of Hong Kong. What’s cooler is that Lee made sure the units would be rented to youngsters aged 18 to 30 for just half the usual rate.
And his generosity doesn’t stop at public philanthropy. He’s also quite the family man. To celebrate the birth of four of his grandchildren, he handed out cash gifts to his Henderson Land employees, with the total reaching HK$60 million over a span of nine years.
Remember May 2018? That’s when Lee made another notable donation. He generously gave HK$100 million to the Hang Seng Management College, boosting their strategic development. Lee’s dedication to supporting education is really something to admire.
As of 2023, Lee Shau-kee is among the wealthiest individuals globally, with an estimated net worth of around $31 billion. The majority of his wealth comes from his real estate businesses, including his stakes in Henderson Land Development and other investments.
Lee Shau-kee’s success story from a modest upbringing to becoming one of the world’s richest men is nothing short of inspiring. His work through Henderson Land Development has significantly shaped Hong Kong’s skyline. He is often referred to as “Hong Kong’s Warren Buffett” due to his savvy investment strategies and wealth.
Lee is not just a successful businessman but also a well-known philanthropist. He has donated billions to charitable causes, focusing primarily on education and healthcare. In 2007, he pledged to donate HK$1 billion to charitable and educational causes every year. His charitable foundation, the Lee Shau Kee Foundation, is active in numerous philanthropic projects across Hong Kong and mainland China.
Here are some notable things:
Despite his wealth and status, Lee Shau-kee maintains a low public profile. He prefers to keep his personal life away from the media spotlight.