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Hong Kong property mogul Tang Shing-bor dies at 88

Tang Shing-bor, a Hong Kong property mogul whose career spanned six decades, has died. He was 88.

He died peacefully in Hong Kong on Friday with his family by his side, a spokesperson for the Tangs said in a statement.

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"The family will continue to follow the legacy of Mr. Tang Shing-bor and work together to develop the family business and make positive contributions to the country and society,” according to the statement.

Tang was known as “Shop King” for his vast holding of retail properties. His family’s real estate portfolio was valued at about HK$75 billion (US$9.7 billion) last year. During the peak of Hong Kong’s retail boom in 2017, Tang invested more than US$1 billion in commercial real estate.

In property circles, Tang was renowned for turning old industrial buildings, remnants of Hong Kong’s former manufacturing days, into viable commercial real estate in rapidly gentrifying areas of the city

In property circles, Tang was renowned for turning old industrial buildings, remnants of Hong Kong’s former manufacturing days, into viable commercial real estate in rapidly gentrifying areas of the city.

Humble beginnings

Tang’s success was a far cry from his humble beginnings. When he was five years old his father died, and his mother was forced to take a low-paying factory job. With a primary school education, Tang took a job in his late teens as an apprentice to an electrician making neon signs.

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In his 20s he opened his own neon-light store and in the 1970s started a dim sum eatery with friends. The restaurant kick-started a string of successful shop investments.

By 1997, Tang had acquired more than 200 shops worth about HK$7.3 billion and began planning an IPO, only to see those dreams crash amid the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

Most recently, Tang was one of several property moguls hit by Hong Kong’s six quarters of economic downturn, triggered by the 2019 protests and then the coronavirus pandemic. As of January, he was seeking to sell billions of dollars of real estate.

Details of Tang’s funeral arrangements will be announced in due course, according to the statement.