HK tycoon Lee Shau-kee pledges $173 million to charity as Hang Seng index passes milestone

A file photo of tycoon Lee Shau-kee posing in front of the company logo during a news conference in Hong Kong. PHOTO: REUTERS

HONG KONG (REUTERS) - The billionaire chairman of Hong Kong developer Henderson Land said he will donate HK$1 billion (S$173 million) to charity after the city's benchmark index surpassed the 30,000-point level, keeping a pledge he made seven years ago.

Lee Shau-kee, nicknamed "Hong Kong's Warren Buffett", promised in his autobiography in 2010 that he would donate HK$1 billion when the Hang Seng Index surpassed 30,000 points - a level last scaled in November 2007 - and would continue to donate that sum each year the index stayed above that level.

"He will donate HK$2 billion a year if the index goes above 40,000 points as part of his aspiration of helping millions of people," Henderson Land spokeswoman Bonnie Ngan told Reuters.

"We have checked with our boss and Mr Lee says he will keep his promise and will donate HK$1 billion."

Hong Kong's benchmark index ended above 30,000 points for the first time in 10 years on Wednesday, closing at 30,003.49, amid signs Chinese investors were stepping up buying of Hong Kong stocks. The blue-chip index extended gains on Thursday, rising 0.1 per cent to 30,024 by the lunch break.

The index has risen 36.5 per cent so far this year, and is up 6.3 per cent this month.

Lee is looking at 10 projects related to education and helping to alleviate poverty, Ngan said, adding that details would be announced once finalised.

One in five people in Hong Kong, or 1.35 million people, fall beneath the poverty line, a record high, according to the government's Poverty Situation Report released last Friday.

With a net worth of US$28.7 billion, Lee ranks as Hong Kong's second-richest person after tycoon Li Ka-Shing.

Forbes listed him No. 32 on its rich list of billionaires globally.

"My wish is to donate HK$1 billion a year as charity as the Hang Seng Index hits 30,000 points," Lee had written on his website.

"On average, each person would receive HK$10,000 in subsidies, meaning some 100,000 people would benefit," he added.

Shares of Henderson Land, which has a market value of HK$207 billion, were up 0.4 per cent on Thursday. They have risen nearly 40 per cent so far this year.

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