Shortly after his 69-year-old father, Henry, went on leave because of an unspecified illness, Adrian Cheng, became the apparent heir to his Billion dollar Jewelry Empire an chains of business which includes; New World Development Co. and Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group Ltd.
When the 36-year-old scion ultimately takes over from his father, he will be in charge of a conglomerate that controls one of the city’s biggest property developers, runs the Carlyle Hotel in New York City and operates a chain of jewelry stores that generates about 80 percent more revenue than Tiffany & Co. globally. Today, the family controls four listed companies with a total market value of more than $25 billion, as well as some that are closely held.
Yet challenges abound for Cheng, but despite his youth, the grandson of the late magnate Cheng Yu-tung has been groomed for years and already juggles more than a dozen titles, including vice chairman of New World Development and executive director at Chow Tai Fook.
If he were to take over now, he would be facing declining margins in the family’s main property-development business and slumping demand for high-end jewelry. He’d also face the challenges of retaining decades of connections his elders built up and rebuilding investor trust after past family missteps raised concerns about corporate governance.
Being one of Hong Kong’s four richest dynasties, they are all preparing for a leadership transition that may test the adage that family fortunes don’t last beyond three generations.
Image: Getty Images / Vittorio Zunino Celotto