Top 10 best-performing family businesses in Hong Kong

Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group has over 28,000 employees and annual revenues ofUS$28,400
From logistics to energy, manufacturing to property, these 10 mega Hong Kong family businesses continue to diversify business interests in new sectors

When it comes family business, Hong Kong leads the Asia-Pacific pack with the highest number of the world's largest family enterprises in APAC (18) – according to the 2023 EY and University of St. Gallen Family Business Index.

Hong Kong is home to 18 of the 79 family enterprises in the region, with the combined revenue of companies from Asia-Pacific passing the US$1 trillion barrier for the first time this year. 

With a staggering 70% of listed companies in Hong Kong family businesses, there is no denying the family firm as a key driver in Hong Kong's economic success.

Among these leading businesses, the top 15 account for more than 80% of the city's GDP. 

Here, we list the top 10 family businesses in Hong Kong.

1

CK Hutchison Holdings

Annual revenue: US$57.3 billion

Employees: 285,000

Family: Li

CEO: Victor Li Tzar-kuoi

Multinational conglomerate CK Hutchison operates the world's leading health and beauty retailer Watsons

While CK Hutchison can trace its roots back to 1950, the company was founded in its current form in 2015 by Hong Kong’s richest man Li Ka-shing following consolidation of family business interests.

Now led by Victor Li Tzar-kuoi, Li Ka-Shing’s elder son and chairman, the multinational conglomerate operates a diverse range of businesses, spanning telecoms, port services, retail, energy and infrastructure.

As well as being a world leader in port services, holding interests in 54 ports in 25 countries, CK Hutchison has exponentially expanded its telecoms business since its entry into the mobile telecommunications market in 1983 – and now serves over 176 million customers across the world.

In a recent mega deal, CK Hutchison merged its UK telecoms business with Vodafone’s, taking a minority stake (49%) in the new business, which marks the biggest shakeup in the UK mobile market for over a decade.

The conglomerate is also big in retail and owns Watson Group, the world’s leading global health and beauty retailer, with 16,300 stores in 28 markets worldwide. Among its portfolio of retail brands, Watson Group also operates PARKnSHOP supermarket, FORTRESS electrical appliances chain, Watson’s Wine, and in Europe – brands including Superdrug, Savers, Trekpleister, Drogas and two luxury perfumeries and cosmetics retail brands ICI PARIS XL and The Perfume Shop.

In infrastructure, CK Infrastructure Holdings Limited (CKI) has diversified investments in energy, transportation, water and waste management, and the Group holds direct interests in other infrastructure projects including Australian Gas Networks and Northumbrian Water.

The conglomerate recently posted its largest drop in profit since 2015, amid China and Hong Kong’s slowing growth (Hong Kong’s economy slowed to 1.5% in the second quarter of 2023) and on the back of “stagnant global demand for consumer goods”.

2

Jardine Matheson Holdings

Annual revenue: US$35.9 billion

Employees: 400,000

Family: Keswick

CEO: Ben Keswick

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As one of the top 200 publicly traded companies in Asia, and a member of the Fortune Global 500, this diversified Asian-based group delivers a broad portfolio of market-leading businesses operating in 32 countries and regions across mainly Asia.

Founded in 1832 in China, but headquartered in Hong Kong, the Group is run by the Keswick family with Ben Keswick, the second member of the family’s fifth generation to lead the business, serving as executive chairman in 2019. Within just a few years of taking the helm, Ben implemented one of the biggest corporate restructurings in the firm’s nearly 200-year history.

As well as operating subsidiaries spanning motor vehicles, property, food retailing, health and beauty, construction, transport, luxury hotels, financial services, agribusiness and mining, the company holds interests in Jardine Pacific, Jardine Motors, Hongkong Land, Mandarin Oriental and DFI Retail Group, among many others.

As a leading pan-Asian retailer, DFI Retail Group operates brands including Robinsons Department Stores and 7 Eleven in 13 countries and territories, boasting more than 10,700 outlets and employing over 218,000 workers.

With an 80.2% stake in global luxury hotel brand Mandarin Oriental, the Group operates 36 hotels and seven residences in 24 countries.

Among the its automotive businesses, Zung Fu Motors Group in Hong Kong is the exclusive retailer of Mercedes-Benz, while Singapore’s Cycle & Carriage brand represents a growing portfolio of businesses.

They also operate one of Asia’s leading restaurant groups, the Jardine Restaurant Group, which first brought the Pizza Hut brand to Asia, in 1987, and has since expanded to include the KFC brand with more than 1,000 outlets and 25,000 employees.

The company recently celebrated 50 years of Jardine House, the first Skyscraper in Hong Kong, home to leading banks and the APAC HQ of global firms including Invesco and Richemont.

Jardine posted a net profit of US$566 million for the first half of 2023, up 34%.

3

Orient Overseas (International) Ltd

Annual revenues: US$16.8 billion

Employees: 10,678

Family: Tung

CEO: Huang Xiaowen

OCCL headquarters in Hong Kong / Credit: OCCL

Founded in 1947 by Tung Chao-yung, Orient Overseas (International) Ltd (OOIL) is one of Hong Kong's last great shipping dynasties with major interests in container transport and logistics represented by 130 offices in more than 100 major cities. Linking Asia, Europe, the Americas, Africa and Oceania, the company offers transportation services to all the major trading economies of the world.

Year on year OOIL has grown its revenues 17.75% from US$16.83bn to US$19.82bn while net income improved 39.80% from US$7.13 billion to US$9.97 billion. 

In 2018, the two brothers Tung Chee Chen and Tung Chee Hwa sold their entire stake to China shipping giant COSCO, pocketing US$4.34 billion. 

Among the Hong Kong-listed company’s transportation subsidiaries, Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL) is one of the world’s largest integrated international transportation and logistics companies, providing customers across Asia-Pacific, Europe, Africa and the Americas with fully integrated logistics and containerised transportation services.

In particular, OOCL is one of the leading international carriers serving China and an industry leader in the use of technology and e-commerce to manage the cargo process.

The company is also pushing ahead with sustainable solutions, investing heavily in green energy ships, green methanol and biofuels as it looks to not only reduce its own carbon footprint but become a leader in the green shipping industry. Just this month, the business introduce its fifth eco-friendly mega containership into its fleet

This has led to OOIL scooping a top-performing ESG score in S&P Global’s Sustainability Yearbook 2023, ranked in the top 1% of Chinese corporate companies.

Among other shipping subsidiaries, OOLI operates IQAX, an independent tech company with strong heritage in the global shipping industry.

Recently listed in the top 10 shipping digital pioneers in recognition of its best-in-class innovative digital solutions and tech for the shipping industry, IQAX leverages advanced technlogies such as IoT, AI and ML into a complete suite of products aimed at significantly strengthening shipping and logistics operations.

4

Swire Pacific Limited

Annual revenue: US$11.7 billion

Employees: 80,000

Family: Swire

Chairman: Guy Bradley

Subsidiary Swire Coca-Cola is a bottler with 25 plants in mainland China

In operation for more than 200 years, this highly diversified global group delivers a diverse portfolio of market-leading businesses spanning property, beverages and aviation, and more recently in healthcare and sustainable foods.

Established in 1868, parent company John Swire & Sons is headquartered in London.

While operations in Hong Kong trace back to 1868 with the first Swire branch opening, Swire Pacific was officially born in 1974 as a holding company for the Group’s principal Hong Kong-based assets – and today, operates subsidiaries including Swire Projects, Swire Properties, Swire Aviation and Swire Coca-Cola.

As one of Hong Kong’s largest commercial landlords and the operators of retail space, 50-year-old Swire Properties is a leading developer, owner and operator of mixed-use, mainly commercial, properties in mainland China and Hong Kong. The business also owns and manages two hotels in Hong Kong, including the award-winning The Upper House.

A major player in the global aviation industry, Swire also has interests ranging from airlines to aircraft engineering and flight catering, including an associate interest in the Cathay Pacific Group.

Healthcare is a focus too for the Group, with investments in Columbia China Healthcare and DeltaHealth China, a healthcare provider specialising in cardiovascular care.

Swire Coca-Cola is a bottler with 25 plants in mainland China and plans to open three more plants by 2025, with its total investment in China exceeding 12 billion yuan in the decade.

With a focus on Asia, the conglomerate recently sold its US drinks unit for US$3.9 billion to controlling shareholder, John Swire & Sons – which holds controlling stakes in a range of businesses trading in the UK, US, Europe and Papua New Guinea, as well as the Group’s deep sea shipping businesses headquartered in Singapore.

This is part of the Hong Kong-headquartered conglomerate’s plans to offload assets as it looks to reduce debt in the face of rising borrowing costs.

5

LI & Fung

Annual revenues: US$11.4 billion

Employees: 16,796

Family: Fung

Group Executive Chairman: Spencer Fung

Li & Fung operates one of the most extensive global supply chain networks in the world

Li & Fung has a rich history and heritage in import and export trading and global supply chain management that dates back to 1906.

Starting as a handicrafts trading business, the company traces the story of how Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta emerged as one of the world’s foremost manufacturing and trading regions.

Now a multinational corporation, with headquarters in Hong Kong, and focused on connecting retailers in the West with manufacturers in the East, Li & Fung manages complex supply chains for brands and retailers worldwide.

The firm now operates one of the most extensive global supply chain networks in the world – designing, developing, sourcing and distributing a wide range of consumer goods products and has more than 10,000 suppliers worldwide and operating in more than 230 offices and 270 distribution centres worldwide.

Among its more than 50 production territories, Li & Fung counts China, India, Vietnam, Indonesia and Bangladesh as its top five sourcing countries.

What sets the 115-year-old world’s biggest sourcing company apart is the high degree of flexibility and scalability it offers as part of its end-to-end supply chain and logistics solutions. The company is increasingly leveraging digital technologies to reimagine and create future-ready supply chains as well as to speed collaboration, drive innovation and enhance sustainability.

As the family’s fourth generation, Spencer Fung serves as group executive chairman, having been Group CEO from 2014 to 2020 – and has since made the company private.

With more than 16,000 employees, Li & Fung has achieved a gender balance in its workforce, and high levels of female management at 41%.

6

China Light & Power (CLP Group)

Annual revenues: US$10.8 billion

Employees: 8,183

Family: Kadoorie

CEO: Chiang Tung Keung

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In 120 years, CLP Holdings Limited has grown to become one of the largest investor-owned power businesses in Asia-Pacific, with a focus on producing clean and low-carbon energy, and with investments in Hong Kong, Mainland China, Australia, India, Taiwan Region and Thailand.

Among subsidiaries, CLP operates a vertically-integrated electricity supply business, CLP Power, in Hong Kong, which includes generation, transmission and distribution, and retail – serving 80% of the territory’s population (2.77 million customers). 

Through its partnership with China Southern Power Grid international, CLP operates various power stations and a landfill gas power generation project with gross capacity totalling 8,268 megawatts, as of June 2023. Furthermore, they manage more than 16,800 km of transmission and distribution lines and over 15,700 substations.

Entering the mainland China market in 1979, CLP is now the largest external investor in the energy sector with total investment around HK$50 billion and a generation portfolio that includes nuclear, wind, solar, hydro and coal and with storage capacity totalling 7,036MW and operations in 15 regions.

The company has also gained a foothold in Australia, acquiring energy retailer EnergyAustralia in 2011, and has been one of the largest foreign investors in India’s power sector since 2002 – not to mention investments in the Taiwan market since the early 90s where it owns a power station and solar farm.

As early adopters of cleaner fuels, CLP has reduced air emissions by more than 90% from the early 1990s, despite a nearly 90% rise in electricity demand in the same period.

Under its Climate Vision 2050, it is the first power company in Asia-Pacific to set voluntary targets to reduce carbon intensity, and has pledged not to invest in any additional coal-fired generation capacity and to progressively phase out all remaining coal assets by 2050

Owned by the British Kadoorie family, with Michael Kadoorie still serving as chairman, CLP Group has been led by CEO and Executive Director Chiang Tung Keung since October 2023. He is the first Chinese national to hold the position.

The firm has secured numerous awards for being an attractive employer including by Randstad Hong Kong.

7

Sun Hung Kai Properties (SHKP)

Annual revenues: US$10.0 billion

Employees: 40,500

Family: Kwok

Chairman: Raymond Kwok

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Established in the 1960s by Kwok Tak-seng, and two others, Sun Hung Kai Properties has grown into one of the largest property developers in Hong Kong, as well as its biggest commercial landlord.

Kwok’s three sons inherited SHKP after he died in 1990, with the third and youngest son Raymond Kwok running the company to this day. He has a net worth of US$1.2 billion.

Specialising in developing premium quality residential projects, the company owns and operates an extensive network of shopping malls, office buildings and luxury hotels, as well as well as building and selling luxury condominiums and other residential properties.

Among these, Hong Kong’s tallest building, the 118-storey International Commerce Centre in West Kowloon, and the International Finance Centre in the Central district.

In land bank, the property developer has 21.6 million sqft and 47.1 million sqft under development in Hong Kong and mainland China, respectively.

Committed to sustainable development, Sun Hung Kai is one of the first developers in Hong Kong to rejuvenate a wetland as part of a large-scale project at Park Yoho in Yuen Long.

The company has also entered the IT business via various subsidiaries including SmarTone Telecommunications Holdings, which provides mobile phone services, and SUNeVision Holdings, the technology arm of SEHK – which is the largest data centre provider in Hong Kong.

Group sales in Hong Kong increased 13% YoY to HK$33.4 billion, according to 2022/23 annual results, with footfall in the Group’s shopping malls both in Hong Kong and mainland China seeing improvement in footfall and tenant sales following the pandemic.

8

Nine Dragons Paper

Annual revenues: US$9.3 billion

Employees: 20,098

Family: Cheung

CEO: Cheung Yan

Nine Dragons Paper is the world’s largest paper manufacturer

Widely known as China’s ‘paper queen’, Cheung Yan co-founded Nine Dragons in 1995, a company that has since grown into the world’s largest paper manufacturer.

The Hong Kong-based and listed company built and ran a network of mills in China in the 2000s and early 2010s becoming one of the largest importers of old corrugated containers and other recovered paper grades.

Following a ban by China in 2018 on the importation of foreign waste (a crucial component in the production of cardboard), Cheung redirected her focus to Southeast Asia, and has since delivered a raft of investments in factories both in Vietnam and Malaysia – as well as the US. 

The company recently finished its first base paper factory in Malaysia, a facility that is making 900,000 tonnes of paper for cardboard annually, and as a way to further expand its international resources, Nine Dragons acquired four pulp / paper mills in the US in 2018.

Today, the Group has a total annual design production capacity of around 18 million tonnes and some 20,000 employees.

Its sister company has built an upstream recycled resources trading company to ensure stable supply of recycled paper, and also established several downstream packaging bases.

Leveraging technology in its manufacturing, the Group uses advanced SAP management platform, and in terms of sustainability has reached international leading standards.

Sales volumes increased by around 3.4% for the year ending 30 June 2023, though revenue decreased.

9

First Pacific Company

Annual revenues: US$9.1 billion

Employees: 100,120

Family: Salim

CEO: Manuel V. Pangilinan

First Pacific is a leading investment company

Founded in 1981 as a financial services provider with just six people and startup capital of HK$7 million, this family-run financial services company has grown into a leading investment company in Asia-Pacific with core investments in consumer and food products, telecommunications, infrastructure, and natural resources.

Majority-owned by Indonesia's powerful Salim family, which has a net worth of US$7.5 billion, First Pacific's portfolio includes 13 companies, operating in 40 countries, with 45,000 employees. All companies function as independent units, and six are publicly traded.

While trading continues to be the company's chief revenue generator, telecoms represents its fastest-growing segment with companies in its portfolio including Pacific Link Communication, one of Hong Kong's largest mobile phone companies; Smart Communications, which falls under its Philippines-based arm, Metro Pacific; and PLDT – the largest integrated telecoms company in the Philippines

Among other principal investments – Indofood, one of the world’s largest noodle makers and the biggest food company listed in Indonesia; Philex, which is engaged in the exploration and mining of mineral resources; and PacificLight – which operates one of Singapore’s most efficient power plants.

The Group witnessed record-high earnings in 2022 with turnover rising 13% to US$10.3 billion, largely thanks to record-setting performances at its global food business and Singapore power investment.

“Our core holdings of Indofood, PLDT and MPIC – joined now by PLP – continue to promise a strong outlook, making us confident in the prospects for these core businesses,” the statement read.

10

Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group

Annual revenues: US$28,400

Employees: 28,400

Family: Cheng

Chairman: Henry Cheng

Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group

Founded in 1929 by Cheng Yu-tung, the Group is an investment holding company engaged in the sale of jewellery via various subsidiaries – operating through a jewellery business in mainland China, a separate watch business there, and a business in Hong Kong.

The Fortune Global 2000 company is considered one of the largest diamond importers in mainland China, and widely known for its iconic, flagship jewellery brand Chow Tai Fook and curated retail experiences – along with other brands including Hearts on Fire, Enzo, Soinlove and Monlogue.

Now chaired by Henry Cheng, son of the founder, the Group has around nine members of the Cheng family working across its enterprises, with Henry Cheng & family now worth US$28.9 billion, according to Forbes.

The company, which listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange in 2011, has an extensive retail network in China, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, the US and Canada, as well as a fast-growing smart retail business.

Along with a portfolio of self-operated and franchised stores, the company also boasts a digital jewellery customisation platform. Investments in technology take centre stage for the company, with a dedicated data intelligence space for analytics management, and smart production and distribution with its Automated Logistics and Distribution Centre.

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