|The Two Ronnies
Keen cultural conserver and radical redeveloper, Ronnie Chan, chairman of the Hang Lung Group, is indeed something of a contradictory character
“I hear you bought some of my stock?” Ronnie Chan says to one young employee, wagging his finger in mock caution. “Risky move. After all, what the hell do I know?”
Quite a lot, you might assume. Chan, the chairman of the Hang Lung Group, is widely regarded as one of the most successful, wealthy and powerful men in Hong Kong. Despite his pre-eminence, he remains, almost disconcertingly, on first-name terms with all of his staff.(Mar-2012-People)
He is ubiquitously addressed simply as “Ronnie”, while everyone else gets the first-name treatment too, with Chan seeming to recognise all of his staff. Bearing in mind the group employs thousands, it is safe to assume that this familiarity doesn’t extend all the way down the pecking order.
Chan has been the chairman of the group and its subsidiary, Hang Lung Properties, since 1991. Although, in true Hong Kong style, Chan ascended into a senior role in the family business, much of its current success is ascribed to him personally. His belief in the potential of China’s emerging middle class saw Hang Lung invest heavily in developing mainland shopping malls, the source of much of its current revenue.
Most recently, the company reported profits of HK$1 billion. This, together with its large-scale developments in the city and in Mainland China, have confirmed its standing as one of the largest and most successful property developers in Hong Kong.(Mar-2012-People)
Chan’s humour and personality are, legendarily, a key part of his phenomenally successful business approach. Deceptively lightweight on the surface, it actually demonstrates an inspirational level of respect between Chan, his employees and those he chooses to do business with.(Mar-2012-People)
Famously, he once said that he wouldn’t hire anyone who had worked in investment banking for longer than two years. This, he said, was because, by that time, their moral fibre would be sorely lacking.
As well as his clear disregard for the integrity and moral values of the banking community, Chan is also a keen believer in the absolute importance of cultural preservation. To this end, he is currently immersed in one of his pet projects—the now-completed redevelopment of the former British Military Magazine Compound in Admiralty.
This restoration work on the site is just the latest in a series of large-scale conservation construction projects undertaken by Chan over the years. Following its completion, the compound has been added to a list of his most successful and high-profile projects. It is a list that, impressively, already includes the rebuilding of two imperial gardens inside Beijing’s Forbidden City. (Mar-2012-People)