HONG KONG • A 37-year-old former entertainment reporter has become the richest woman in Hong Kong after her fugitive businessman husband Joseph Lau Luen Hung transferred HK$17 billion (S$3 billion) worth of assets to her.
Citing a "very unstable health condition", he on Wednesday transferred his entire 74.99 per cent controlling stake in Chinese Estates Holdings, a property company, to Ms Chan Hoi Wan and his son Lau Ming Wai, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported.
The 36-year-old son is one of his two children from his first marriage, which ended in the 1990s.
Ms Chan now holds a 50.02 per cent stake in the company through Sino Omen, whose shares are held by her as a trustee for her two young children with Joseph Lau, according to SCMP.
The transfer came after she was appointed executive director of Chinese Estates, said the report.
The former Apple Daily reporter is now estimated to be worth HK$50 billion (S$9 billion), which makes her richer than Mrs Pollyanna Chu, 58, founder of Kingston Financial Group whose net worth is said to be US$4.8 billion (S$6.8 billion).
Ranked No. 4 this year by Forbes among the wealthiest in Hong Kong, Joseph Lau has been known to suffer from renal failure, heart disease and diabetes.
He revealed in November last year that he had gone for a kidney transplant.
The 65-year-old married Ms Chan, also known as Kimbie Chan, in dramatic fashion last December after he placed front-page advertisements to announce his 2014 break-up with former beauty contestant Yvonne Lui.
He and Ms Chan reportedly had been together for more than 10 years before they tied the knot.
During her news reporting days, she was well-known for her doggedness - and also her connections with celebrities.
One of the highlights in her career is an exclusive interview with four-time Chinese Olympic champion diving queen Fu Mingxia, then 23. The athlete spoke for the first time about her romance and wedding plans with former Hong Kong finance secretary Antony Leung, 50.
After meeting Joseph Lau through work, Ms Chan resigned from Apple Daily in 2002 and joined his cosmetics line.
A flamboyant billionaire in his younger days, he was convicted in 2014 by a Macau court for money laundering and greasing the palm of former Macau public works chief Ao Man Long in a bribes-for-land scheme.
Ao was sentenced to 29 years in prison.
Joseph Lau was sentenced to five years and three months in absentia for the case.
He remains free in Hong Kong due to the lack of an extradition agreement between the two special administrative regions.