Hong Kong — The sole beneficiary of Hong Kong tycoon Nina Wang’s multi-billion-dollar fortune is a low-key businessman and feng shui enthusiast, a lawyer said on Friday, playing down the likelihood of a court battle with her family.
Speculation had been rife for weeks over the identity of the beneficiary of Ms. Wang’s estate, finally revealed on Friday to be Chan Chun-chuen by lawyer Jonathan Midgley.
In explaining why Ms. Wang — Asia’s richest woman with a net worth estimated at $4.2-billion (U.S.) — left everything to a complete outsider, shunning her family, Mr. Midgley said Mr. Chan had: “understood (Wang’s) philosophy, both her personal philosophy and her philosophy in running her businesses.”
Mr. Chan, a 48-year-old married businessman with mainly property interests, was believed to be Ms. Wang’s feng shui master, but Mr. Midgley told reporters that was overstated.
“In the past he used to give advice (on feng shui) and now he considers feng shui in the context of a hobby,” he said.
Local media reports said Mr. Chan had studied medicine in Canada.
Feng shui is an ancient Chinese practice of divination, seeking to align natural energies to optimize good fortune or health.
Many Hong Kong residents, rich and poor, swear by the practice, with some feng shui masters having an almost cult-like following and great influence over clients.
Nicknamed “little sweetie” for her braided pigtails, mini-skirts and giggly persona, Ms. Wang, 69, died this month from cancer.
Her life was touched by tragedy in 1990 when her husband Teddy Wang was abducted and never seen alive again.
Later she stirred controversy by waging a legal war against her father-in-law, Wang Din-shin, to secure her husband’s billions even though he had not yet been confirmed dead.
Ms. Wang won the eight-year legal battle in 2005, securing full control of the estate and of Hong Kong’s largest private property developer, Chinachem group, in a probate saga that captivated the city of seven million with tales of illicit affairs.
The repercussions of Ms. Wang’s contentious decision have yet to be fully felt, with many predicting an almost certain protracted legal battle with her family.
Ms. Wang’s family lodged an application to the courts on Thursday to claim its right to the inheritance, but Ms. Wang’s lawyer played down any aggressive intentions.
“We do not interpret this in any way as a hostile act, but a prudent step taken by experienced solicitors,” said Mr. Midgley.
Media reports had suggested Ms. Wang, who had no children, had drafted a will in 2002 pledging much of her wealth to charity.
But a second, revised will, believed to be her last, drafted in 2006, as she battled cancer, named Mr. Chan as the sole beneficiary.
Ms. Wang, who was ranked the 154th richest person in the world by Forbes magazine last year, was known for her eccentricities, including her self-professed stinginess — saying she only spent a modest $380 a month on shopping and necessities, sometimes flashing her bargain buys to the media.
A lavish funeral was held for Ms. Wang on Wednesday that was attended by a string of tycoons and Hong Kong’s political elite.