Mar 30, 2023
Chinese Tycoon’s $271 Million Mansion Seized in Hong Kong
(Bloomberg) -- A Chinese tycoon’s $271 million mansion in the luxurious Peak neighborhood of Hong Kong was taken away by a bank, just years after the businessman made headlines with his record-breaking shopping spree.
Chen Hongtian, chairman of Hong Kong-based investment firm Cheung Kei Group, also had an apartment in the Frank Gehry-designed Opus building and the Cheung Kei Center in the city’s Hung Hom area seized. In total, he lost about $1.4 billion worth of properties in recent months, both in Hong Kong and London, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Chen’s plight underscores the liquidity crunch that Chinese real estate entrepreneurs are facing. He joins a number of tycoons — including China Evergrande Group Chairman Hui Ka Yan — in losing control of their luxury properties.
The house on the Peak was taken earlier this month by Bank of East Asia Ltd., while Bank of Communications Co. seized the Opus apartment in February, documents from the government show. On Tuesday, a receiver was appointed for the Cheung Kei Center, according to a Companies Registry filing. It was taken by Hang Seng Bank Ltd. through PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.
A spokeswoman for PwC declined to comment. Calls to Cheung Kei’s offices in Hong Kong and Shenzhen went unanswered.
Chen is facing problems elsewhere. Lloyds Banking Group Plc is attempting to sell a loan secured against a Canary Wharf office tower owned by Chen’s group ahead of an imminent maturity, Bloomberg News reported this week. The company has already defaulted on another nearby office block financed by the UK bank, and a broker was appointed to sell that property for £250 million. Cheung Kei Group bought the asset for £410 million in 2017.
Now in his 60s, Chen founded Cheung Kei Group by combining businesses he owned in the former British colony and Shenzhen in 1990, at the time China was pushing for market economy reform. The group soon pivoted to real estate development and financial investments after an early success in textile. Before the seizures, he had amassed 10 office towers and hotels across the world, as well as stakes in companies including a wine maker, according to the group’s website.
Chen, who holds Hong Kong permanent residency, is known for his political ties. He’s a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, a top advisory body that includes influential business tycoons, and was awarded a Silver Bauhinia Star by the Hong Kong government in 2020, an honor given to those who have taken a leading role in public affairs or voluntary work.
On the company’s website, Chen shares photos of meetings with world leaders, including Prince Andrew of the UK and Robert Rosen, a director at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
--With assistance from Dorothy Ma.
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