The 10 Largest Family Businesses in Hong Kong

Hong Kong

Hong Kong is the world’s 10th largest trading economy and mainland China’s second most important trading partner, after the United States. Hong Kong’s economy is the most service-oriented of all global economies, accounting for 93.4 per cent of the territory’s more than $369 Billion GDP. Service sectors are a key factor in the city’s standing as an international business, trade, and financial hub.

Family firms are critical drivers in Hong Kong’s economic prosperity. Nearly 70 per cent of the listed companies in Hong Kong are family businesses. The top 15 account for over 80 per cent of the city’s GDP. The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is also home to the highest number of the world’s largest family enterprises in Asia-Pacific with 18. Nearly 60 per cent of Hong Kong’s family businesses have multi-generational involvement, significantly higher than the global average of 35 per cent.

Here are the 10 Largest Family Businesses in Hong Kong by revenue:

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10. Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group

Founded: 1929

Owning/Controlling Family: Cheng (Yu Tung)

Annual Revenue: $9.1 Billion

Originally a single jewellery store founded by Chow Chi-Yuen, the business specialised in items reminiscent of gifts exchanged during the Lunar New Year. The name, “Chow Tai Fook”, was selected to invoke luck, class, and prosperity. Within a decade, the company grew to become one of the top gold jewellery stores in the territory. Today, the group is one of Mainland China’s largest diamond importers and operates a network of over 7,600 corporate and franchise retail locations across China, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, the United States, and Canada.

Henry Cheng chairs Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group following in the footsteps of his father, Cheng Yu-tung, who joined the business in the early 1940s and later married Chow Tsui-Ying, daughter of the founder. At least 9 members of the Cheng family are involved with the Group’s activities.

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9. First Pacific Company Ltd.

Founded: 1981

Owning/Controlling Family: Salim

Annual Revenue: $9.1 Billion

First Pacific Company’s investment interests across the Asia-Pacific region  are primarily focused on the sectors of consumer food products, telecommunications, infrastructure, and natural resources. The company’s portfolio of businesses includes Indonesian food solutions company, Indofood — one of the world’s largest manufacturers of wheat-based instant noodles by volume. First Pacific Company’s PLTD holding is the largest fully integrated telecommunications company in the Philippines.

First Pacific was established as a financial services provider but an acquisition of major shares of Hong Kong-based telecoms launched its investment strategy in the late 80s. Sudono Salim founded the firm that his son, Anthoni Salim, leads today. Anthoni’s son, Aston Salim, also serves as a director on the company’s board.

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8. Nine Dragons Paper (Holdings) Ltd.

Founded: 1995

Owning/Controlling Family: Cheung

Annual Revenue: $9.3 Billion

Nine Dragons Paper is the world’s leading paper manufacturer in production capacity. The company specialises in a variety of packaging, paperboard, and environmentally friendly paper products. The group operates 9 paper manufacturing bases and 8 packaging bases in China, a paper manufacturing base in Vietnam, a pulp mill in Malaysia and 4 pulp and paper mills in the United States. The group has a total annual design production capacity of approximately 18 million tonnes of pulp and paper.

Cheung Yan has led the company she cofounded as its chair since 2006 and is responsible for the group’s corporate development and strategic planning. Her husband and cofounder, Liu Ming Chung, serves as the group’s deputy chairman and chief executive officer.

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7. Sun Hung Kai Properties Ltd.

Founded: 1972

Owning/Controlling Family: Kwok

Annual Revenue: $10 Billion

One of Hong Kong’s largest property companies, Sun Hung Kai Properties Ltd. specialises in developing residential projects and owns an extensive network of shopping malls and commercial office spaces. Founded by Kwok Tak-Seng, the company’s initial focus was on single-tower block developments. However, the group leveraged large-scale residential opportunities when the Chinese government began its push to establish new rural and urban communities. Raymond Kwok serves as the firm’s chair and managing director. He took on the role after his brother, Walter Kwok left the business in 2010. Their mother, Kwong Siu-hing, also holds a significant stake in the company her husband founded. The group owns around 12.2 million square feet of retail space across Hong Kong and takes in around $2.2 billion in gross rental income from its property investment portfolio annually.

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6. Li & Fung Ltd.

Founded: 1906

Owning/Controlling Family: Fung

Annual Revenue: $11.4 Billion

Originally founded at the start of the 20th century as a handicraft trading company, Li & Fung Ltd. handles millions of consumer goods through its global end-to-end supply chain logistics services and solutions. With over 5,000 employees operating in 230 offices and distribution centres across 30 locations worldwide, the group exports goods from over 50 economies. Li & Fung Ltd. is also engaged in building a digital supply chain to help customers and suppliers navigate the digital economy. Spencer Fung serves as executive chairman, representing the family’s fourth generation.

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5. Swire Pacific Ltd.

Founded: 1816

Owning/Controlling Family: Swire

Annual Revenue: $11.7 Billion

Swire Pacific Ltd is an international conglomerate with a diverse portfolio business in Aviation & Marine, Beverages, Healthcare, Properties, and Trading & Industrial. Founded by John Swire as an import-export business in the UK, the company established its trade operation in China in 1816. A response to disruptions caused by the American civil war. By the mid-20th century, the group had entered many of its key sectors and in 1948 established its major stake in Cathay Pacific Airways.

Today, Swire Pacific Ltd controls Cathay Pacific’s group of companies, including Air Hong Kong and Hong Kong Express Airways. Swire’s properties division is one of Hong Kong’s largest commercial landlords and operators of retail space. The group’s Swire Coca-Cola segment has the exclusive right to manufacture and distribute Coca-Cola products in 11 of China’s provinces and other regions around the world.

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4. China Light and Power (CLP Group)

Founded: 1901

Owning/Controlling Family: Kadoorie

Annual Revenue: $12 Billion

China Light and Power operates in five main regions: Hong Kong, Mainland China, Australia, India, Southeast Asia and Taiwan. The company is of the largest investor-owned power utility businesses in the Asia-Pacific region with interests that span all major electricity-centric segments including, transmission & distribution, and retail.  CLP Group serves over 5 million customer accounts and managing nearly 17,000 km of transmission and distribution lines.

Sir Michael Kadoorie Chairs the CLP Holdings Group that his family co-founded and took control of China Light and Power in the 1930s. His son, Philip Lawrence Kadoorie, also serves on CLP’s board as a non-executive director.

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3. Shimao Property Holdings Ltd.

Founded: 2001

Owning/Controlling Family: Hui

Annual Revenue: $21 Billion

Large-scale, integrated real estate developer, Shimao Property Holdings Ltd. projects include residential, hotel, office, and commercial properties. After building a portfolio of real estate investments in the late 90s, the group established its brand in the Shanghai marketplace during the early 2000s. Shimao expanded its urban development strategy to other cities in mainland China, laying the groundwork for its hotels and resorts segment with the 2006 construction of the Yantai Hilton. Today, the family-owned group, led by its founder and chairman, Hui Wing Mau is one of China’s largest property developers.

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2. Jardine Matheson Holdings Ltd.

Founded: 1832

Owning/Controlling Family: Keswick

Annual Revenue: $37.7 Billion

Founded by William Jardine and James Matheson nearly two centuries ago, Jardine Matheson was the first company to ship tea privately from China to England after the end of the East India Company’s trading monopoly. Today, Jardine Matheson Holdings Ltd operates primarily in China and Southeast Asia through its group of companies in sectors that include motor vehicles, property investment, food retailing, financial services, and agribusiness.

The group’s automotive interests are one of the largest contributors to its overall business, bolstered through its strategic partnership with leading automotive distributor in Mainland China, Zhongsheng Group. Jardine Matheson’s property investment, management, and development group, Hong Kong Land owns over 850,000 sq. m. of office and retail space in Hong Kong, Singapore, Beijing, Jakarta, and other major Asian cities. Fifth-generation family member Ben Keswick leads the business as its chairman and tai-pan (top boss).

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1. CK Hutchison Holdings

Founded: 1823

Owning/Controlling Family: Li

Annual Revenue: $57.3 Billion

CK Hutchinson is a multinational global conglomerate with interests spanning port operations and retail to infrastructure and telecommunications. The company’s ports segment is the world’s leading investor, developer, and operator, with a network of 54 port operations across 25 countries throughout Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, the Americas, and Australasia. The company’s A.S. Watson Group is the world’s leading international health and beauty retailer, with over 16,100 offline and online retail stores in 28 markets. CK Hutchinson’s telecommunications segment provides mobile and data services to 176 million customers.

In 1950, Li Ka-Shing founded the company that would become CK Hutchison Holdings in. The company, in its current form, was created after the family consolidated its business interests in 2015. Victor Li Tzar-kuoi succeeded his father, Li Ka-shing, as the Group’s Chairman in 2018.