The Rags-to-Riches Story of Lee Shau Kee

On March 7 in the year 1929, one of the richest billionaires in Asia was born in Guangdong, China. His name is Lee Shau Kee, the founder of Henderson Land Development, one of the biggest landlords in Hong Kong. According to, his net worth is $33.5 billion as of May, 2021.

Lee Shau Kee
Lee Shau Kee (Photo Credit:

Lee was the son of an impoverished couple. With limited education, he fled to Hong Kong when the communists became victorious in China. Working as a clerk in a currency and gold trading company, he learned the rudiments of business management. He also taught himself the English language.

In 1958, Lee formed a small real estate company. In 1963, with a bigger capital, he joined forces with Kwok Tak Seng and Fung King Hey to formed Sun Hung Kai Properties. As the fortune of Hong Kong grew as a trading center, real estate prices soared and the landlords, including Lee, became billionaires.

Lee founded Henderson Land when he left Sun Hung Kai in 1973. In tandem with Sun Hung Kai and other big property companies, Henderson cornered choice properties auctioned by the British administration especially in the New Territories. With enormous profits from real estate, Lee went on to diversify into other areas such as natural gas distribution, hotel and department store. During the 2008 financial crisis, when other businesses were contracting and land prices were falling, his large cash holding enabled him to buy more land. Eventually, his land holding became the largest in Hong Kong.

Lee created another profit-center since 2006. He invested in many Mainland-controlled companies in the stock market. For all the profits he has made from stock trading, he has earned the moniker “Buffett of Hong Kong” after the legendary stock investor Warren Buffett.

Lee has five children with his wife Lau Wai Kuen.


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