Founder and honorary chairman of New World Development Cheng Yu-tung, 91, passed away due to illness on Thursday night.

Cheng, one of the richest men in Hong Kong, worked at Chow Tai Fook in Macau after the wars broke out in 1938, and married Chow’s daughter Chow Chui-ying in 1943, inheriting the jewelry business in 1956. Cheng bought a large number of properties in Hong Kong late 1960s, and founded New World Development in 1970.

Cheng Yu-tung. , remix.

The company was recently embroiled in the Wang Chau controversy, after news reports revealed that the engineering consulting firm it hired, Arup Group, used confidential government data in the developer’s application to build luxury homes in the area.

New World Development is involved in property development, infrastructure, retail and hotels, with a total asset value of around HK$392 billion, according to the firm’s website.

Ties to Wen

Cheng also had close ties with the family of Wen Jiabao, former premier of China. The New York Times reported in 2012 that Cheng and his associates had co-invested in several corporate entities with Wen’s relatives, including Sino-Life and Ping An Insurance. Cheng also invested in a diamond business backed by Wen’s relatives.

Cheng passed on his positions of New World Development chairman of the board and managing director to his son, Henry Cheng Kar-shun, in 2012.

Ellie Ng

Ellie Ng has written for Foreign Policy, the Daily Telegraph, Global Voices Online and others.