Billion dollars wiped of Hong Kong tycoon's wealth
A Hong Kong real estate tycoon who has lost US$1 billion (AUD$1.4 billion) in 10 weeks because of the city's anti-China demonstrations has joined rich listers calling for an end to the protests.
Property mogul Peter Woo, the former chairman of developer Wheelock & Co., urged protesters to ease off, saying they had already gained a victory by getting the Chinese territory's government to shelve a controversial extradition bill that originally sparked the demonstrations.
Woo's personal net worth has dropped by more than AUD$1.4 billion since the protests began, according to Bloomberg. He is now worth USD$11 billion (AUD$16 billion).
Woo is the eighth-wealthiest person in Hong Kong, according to the Bloomberg Billionaire Index.
"It's time to think it over," Woo said in a statement.
"Opposition to the extradition bill was the 'big tree' of this movement. But this one, big appeal was accepted by the government on July 9. So the tree has already fallen."
Some people are using the issue to "purposely stir up trouble," he added.
Hong Kong has some of the most expensive real estate on the planet, but the protests are now threatening its economy.
Other Hong Kong billionaires have also called for the protests to end.
Sun Hung Kai Properties, which is controlled by Asia's third richest family, the Kwoks, has called for demonstrators to stop the violence. The real estate developer called for the restoration of social order and voiced support for Hong Kong's government and Chief Executive Carrie Lam.
And Swire Pacific, one of Hong Kong's richest family-owned business empires, has rebuked the protesters.
The company condemned "illegal activities and violent behaviour" and threw its support behind the beleaguered government.
"Swire Pacific is deeply concerned by the ongoing violence and disruption impacting Hong Kong," the company said in a statement.
It offered its full support for Lam and the city's police "in their efforts to restore law and order."
The company's CEO is billionaire Merlin Swire. The family's business empire dates back more than 200 years and has had roots in Hong Kong for much of that time. It owns luxury hotels, office towers and high-end shopping malls in the city.
Hong Kong officials have warned that disruption caused by the protests could have a more lasting impact than the outbreak of the deadly SARS virus in 2003 that slashed the lucrative tourist trade. Real estate, among other industries, could take a major hit.
Swire is also the largest shareholder in Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong's flagship airline that has become a high profile casualty of the turmoil.
Swire said it fully supports the carrier's "strict implementation" of new restrictions on the airline handed down by China's aviation authority over the weekend.
Hundreds of protesters have disrupted flights from Hong Kong airport this week.
Shares in Cathay Pacific have fallen nearly 14 per cent this month.
From last month thousands of protesters – largely students – have taken to the streets of the territory. While their initial focus was the extradition bill with mainland China, they have since focused on alleged heavy-handed police tactics and the political system.
© Nine Digital Pty Ltd 2019