Siu On Realty (兆安地產)

York Lo: Siu On Realty (兆安地產)

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Left: Siu On Realty founder Lee Siu-lun; Right: Siu On Centre in Wanchai

In late January 2020, low-key real estate developer Lee Siu-lun (李兆麟) passed away at the age of 98. While he was relatively low profile compared to his younger brother Lee Shau-kee of Henderson Land, his Siu On Realty was one of the notable publicly listed developers in the 1970s and 1980s before he sold its listed shell in 1986 and continued his involvement in real estate as a private developer. After 1997,his branch of the family shifted its focus from development to investments, especially in retail properties in Hong Kong.

Lee Siu-lun was the eldest son (rank third out of ten siblings) of banker and gold dealerLee Kai-po (李介甫) and was educated in traditional Chinese schools in his native Shunde and received a more modern education in Cham Kong. In 1944, he entered the banking business in Canton and was promoted from trainee to accountant within a year.In 1951, he came to Hong Kong where he first started in trading and the plastic and rubber business before making his foray into real estate in the 1960s with his wife Ser Siu-hung (佘少鴻), who graduated from the Northcote College of Education and was a teacher.

In 1966, Lee Siu-lun and his wife formed Siu On Land Investment (兆安置業), a firm which was later dissolved in 1977. He also established Tai Shun Finance (大信財務有限公司) in 1972 and Tin Wo Construction (天和建築, incorporated in 1980 and dissolved in 2000). The family also operated Siu On Finance (兆安財務), which was incorporated in 1977 but was sold to Bache in 1985.

InDecember 1972, the couple incorporated Siu On Realty, which went public in January 1973 through the issuance of 10.5 million shares at $1 each. With the proceeds the firm added three projects to its portfolio – including one in Kwai Chung and Shau Kei Wan and 218-220 Lai Chi Kok Road, which was later developed into Shun King Building (順景大廈). (WKYP, 1973-5-12)

In 1975, Siu Onbegan development of the 24-story Felicity Building (中發大廈) at 54-58 Hollywood Road facing Bailey Street with each flat starting at HK$70000. (KSEN, 1975-12-18) The firm also built Siu Fung Building (兆豐大廈) at 9-17 Tin Lok Lane in Wanchai.(TKP, 1975-8-13)

In 1976, Siu On developed Golden Mansion (金來大廈) at 42-52 Shau Kei Wan Main Street East. (KSEN, 1976-3-3) From 1973 to 1976, the annual earnings of Siu On was consistently around HK$4 million each year and its stock price was hovering around $1 per share. (KSEN, 1977-7-19)

In 1977, Siu On built the 27-story Starlight Garden (星輝苑) at 2-14 Electric Street in Wanchai and residential building at 38-40 South Wall Road in Kowloon City.

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Siu On’s ad for Ko Shing Building (left) and Felicity Building (right) in 1977 (WKYP, 1977-6-30)

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Left: Siu On ad for Sea View Mansion in 1978 (WKYP, 1978-2-2); Right: article about Siu On’s Starlight Garden in Wanchai in 1977 (KSEN, 1977-11-4) 

In 1978, Siu On developed Sea View Mansion (海景大廈) at 82-87 Connaught Road West in Sai Ying Pun, Mei Wah Mansion (美華大廈) at 42 Smithfield in Kennedy Town (WKYP, 1978-5-3), the 12-story Winner House (常德樓) at 15 Wong Nai Chung Road in Happy Valley and Ko Shing Building (高陞大廈) at 48-66 Ko Shing Street in Sheung Wan. In 1979, Siu On built a residential building at 1-3 Ching Lin Terrace in Kennedy Town.

In 1980, Siu On teamed up with Kwai Hung Realty (桂洪地產) and developed the 27-story Fook Moon Building (福滿大厦) at 56-72 Third Street in Sai Ying Pun. (WKYP, 1980-3-20)

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Ad for Siu On’s Sunrise Court on Tai Hang Road in 1981 (WKYP, 1981-3-27)

In 1980, Siu On had many other projects under development including 184-192 Lockhart Road (later became Siu On Centre), a joint development with Wah Kwong Properties and SHK Securities ar 2-18 Fort Street in North Point, Kam Hei House in Yuen Long, a residential project on King’s Road, Cheung Fat Industrial Building (長發工業大廈) at 64-76 Larch Street, Siu Ying Commercial Building (兆英商業大廈) at 151-155 Queen’s Road Central, Garley Building at 45-53 Graham Street in Soho and the 24-story Sunrise Court (兆暉閣) at 45 Tai Hang Road.  (KSDN, 1980-5-7)

In 1981, Siu On developed the 23-story Shun Lee Commercial Building (順利商業大廈) at 338-340 Castle Peak Road. The building which was completed in 1983 was selling for $600 per square feet. (WKYP, 1981-11-7) In 1982, Siu On began selling the 15-story Wing Lee Industrial Building (永利工業大廈) in Tai KokTsui with flats starting at $400 per sq ft. (WKYP, 1982-2-27)

In 1983, Siu On developed the 37-story Dragon Peak (龍峯閣) at 6 Dragon Terrace in Tin Hau.(WKYP, 1983-10-25)

In 1986, Lee Siu-lun decided to sell the majority control of the listed shell of Siu On Realty to Australian Chinese tycoon Lee Ming-tee which renamed the firm Allied Overseas Investments (and later to Allied Group in 1990). Meanwhile, Lee renamed one of his holding companies Kar Wah Enterprises (嘉華企業, incorporated in 1971) to Siu On Realty in 1988 and continued to develop properties under the Siu On name.

In 1992, Siu On developed the 20-story Siu On Plaza (兆安廣場) at 482 Jaffe Road in Causeway Bay with total area of 80000 sq ft.

In 1994, Siu On developed the 32-story Siu On Centre at 188 Lockhart Road in Wanchai with total area of 149,344 sq ft and its top floor serving as the group’s head office. In 1995, Siu On developed the residential project Forest Hill (蔚林居) in Kau To Shan. Lee Siu-lun also established Siu On Real Estate Development Co Ltd in Shanghai, Jie Li Property in Guangzhou, and Shiu Fung Property in his hometown Shunde.

After the handover in 1997, Lee Siu-lun shifted his focus from development and investment and between 1997 and 2003, he and his wife acquired over 40 retail properties for over HK$900 million, most of which located in Causeway Bay and appreciated many fold. In 2019, his wife acquired the 12-unit Serene Villa (寧苑) at 41-45 Perkins Road in Jardine’s Lookout for HK$825 million.

Lee Siu-lun and his wife has three sons and two daughters. Their eldest son Henry Lee Ying-lau (李應流) works for Siu On while their second son Dr. Herbert Lee (李應樵) is the founder of 3D visualization technology developer Marvel Digital and was formerly in the jewelry design business. Outside of business, the family has established a number of scholarships at HK Baptist University and HKUST and also donated generously to their native Shunde prefecture.

Sources (other than those cited above):

This article was first posted on 1st October 2021.

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