Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Tycoon Quirks

Emperor Group chairman Albert Yeung showing us his money
Ah the insecurities of the uber wealthy.

Last week entertainment mogul Albert Yeung Sau-shing made a rare public appearance at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre to tell about 600 people his secrets of success as outlined in his autobiography, Work Hard, which he published in March.

The Emperor Group founder who is one of Hong Kong's richest businessmen and the man behind the city's top entertainers revealed that he feels inferior if he carries less than HK$50,000 ($6,448) in his wallet.

He even whipped out his wallet to reveal HK$40,000 in one thousand dollar notes to show the audience.

"I always have HK$40,000 to HK$50,000 cash in my pocket, or I would feel uncomfortable," he said, explaining the need came from having grown up poor.

"I like lending money to others," he said. "It springs from a sense of inferiority. My dad borrowed from loan sharks. Now I feel good being the creditor."

In his book, Yeung admits to cheating with celebrities while married to his now ex-wife Ren Manling, and that he is obsessed with neatness.

He has his stationary placed at the exact same place on his desk and his clothes are "tidier than any boutique" with 40 suit jackets on the right side of his dressing room, and white shirts on the left.

"If any sauce drops on the dining table, I would be very unhappy, as though my business had failed," he said.

This comment would surely make anyone nervous eating anything with this tycoon.

Ranked 32nd on Forbes' list of Hong Kong's wealthiest men, he has helped nurture the careers of such Canto-pop stars as Joey Yung Cho-yee, Leo Ku Kui-kei and Nicholas Tse Ting-fung.

"On the first day, when Nicholas Tse joined my company, I told him not to learn from his father. His dad is a loser," Yeung said, referring to Patrick Tse Yin's bad investments in his youth.

Yeung has advised his stars to invest in property, and as a result, Nicholas Tse is "Lyndhurst Terrace's Li Ka-shing", as he owns so many shops there, and Yung has six luxury properties.

Two weeks ago Emperor Group spent HK$363 million on a 750 square foot shop in Tsim Sha Tsui, making it the most expensive retail space in Kowloon per square foot.

"It could be an expensive deal, but never a wrong deal."

Yeung's father had a watch shop called Shing On Kee Watch Shop in 1942. He was born a year after.

In the 1960s, his father lent him HK$200,000 to start his own watch shop and he opened Observatory Watch & Jewellery in 1964 on Nathan Road in Tsim Sha Tsui.

Two years later Yeung got the distribution rights to Omega and Rolex and from there expanded into jewellery and now Emperor Group includes such businesses as financial services, property. entertainment and films, hospitality, publishing and catering.

It would be so fascinating to do some psychoanalysis on Yeung.

Money has obviously had a strong effect on him since he was a child, thus motivating him throughout his career to ensure he never needs to borrow from anyone.

However his obsessive-compulsiveness about neatness is so extreme, one would be too petrified to be in his presence if you didn't even look neat yourself.

But flashing his money around -- was that a publicity stunt or totally impromptu? Hasn't he heard of credit cards?

In any event, I'm just glad I'm not part of this uber-rich circle -- Yeung's too tough of an act to follow.

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