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HK tycoon Walter Kwok's sons inherit US$3b stake in Sun Hung Kai Properties

Hong Kong

TWO sons of the late Hong Kong billionaire Walter Kwok have between them inherited a US$3.1 billion stake in developer Sun Hung Kai Properties. Geoffrey and Jonathan Kwok are beneficiaries of a trust with 211 million shares, held via a structure that includes British Virgin Islands-based holding companies Asporto and Fortress Gold, filings to the Hong Kong stock exchange showed.

The filings do not disclose the exact shareholding of each son.

A South China Morning Post story from 2012 said that Geoffrey studied for a master's at Stanford after a stint working at Sun Hung Kai, while Jonathan studied in New York, and their sister worked in Singapore.

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Their father, Walter Kwok, died in October this year aged 68 after a heart attack. His Nov 1 funeral at St John's Cathedral in downtown Hong Kong drew many of the city's elites. Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam and Li Ka-Shing sent wreaths.

Walter Kwok's wealth transfer is the latest in a family saga that includes a kidnapping, fallouts and corruption trials.

Walter Kwok was the oldest of three sons who inherited the fortune of Kwok Tak-seng, a grocery wholesaler from Guangdong province, China, who immigrated to Hong Kong after World War II. Kwok Tak-seng joined Fung King-hey and Lee Shau Kee to found Sun Hung Kai Properties in 1963. The company sold shares in an IPO in Hong Kong in August 1972 and became one of the world's largest real-estate developers by market value. Sun Hung Kai's business has since stretched into other areas including logistics and telecommunications.

The three sons - Walter, Thomas and Raymond - took over the company after their father died from a heart attack in 1990. Walter ran the company until 2008. He was kidnapped in 1997 by a Hong Kong gang leader nicknamed "Big Spender", who also held billionaire Li Ka-shing's son, Victor Li, for ransom. A public family squabble led to Walter's extended leave and, subsequently, his ouster as chairman in 2008. Hong Kong's Standard newspaper reported Walter was forced to go on leave after a disagreement with his brothers over a female friend's growing influence in the company. He later sued his siblings for libel. BLOOMBERG