Jonathan Chancellor | 22 May 2013

Hui Wing Mau, Chinese property billionaire the highest BRW Rich List debutant

Hui Wing Mau is the Chinese billionaire founder and the chairman of Shimao Property, who has made a surprise debut in the BRW Rich 200  list with an estimated $4.8 billion wealth.

He is described as one of the largest property developers in Shanghai.

His inclusion comes after BRW noted the Australian citizenship of the high profile developer, formally known as Xu Rongmao. It has actually been on the public record since 2004 that he holds a Australian passport.

Forbes Rich List has previously noted his Hong Kong citizenship, so he presumably has dual nationality. He also retains high Chinese mainland links given his participation in the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

The long time Forbes and Chinese rich member, Hui Wing Mau, as known in Cantonese translation, has a Master of Business Administration from the University of South Australia secured in 2003.

He undertook several property ventures in Australia in the 1990s. In 2005, The New York Times reported he had moved his family to Australia and invested in real estate in the early 1990s.

In 2004 the masterful Sydney Morning Herald China correspondent, Hamish McDonald reported during the 2002-03 financial year Xu Rongmao was one of the biggest individual donors to the NSW branch of the Australian Labor Party of $100,000.

McDonald further noted Shimao's $100,000 donation to the ALP, made a month before the state election, came about as a result of a visit to Shanghai by the then Premier, Bob Carr.

"All the Xu family hold Australian passports, resulting from their time as business migrants to Darwin starting in 1990, when Xu decided to move from Hong Kong, where he had been in stockbroking and then a smallish garment-manufacturing business," it was reported in 2004.

Xu Rongmao used his several years in Australia to build up his capital from real estate deals and augment his entrepreneurial skills with a distance-learning MBA from Adelaide University, before returning to China to join the boom.

His son Jason went on from school in Darwin to a bachelor of business degree at the University of Technology, Sydney, and has also done a distance MBA from Adelaide.

The 62-year-old is now one of China's largest real estate developers with more than 70 projects in progress, none known to be currently in Australia.

He has rocketed into seventh on BRW's list with an estimated wealth of $4.8 billion.

He is one of 16 list members to be based overseas, up from 14 last year.

His $4.8 billion was not enough to knock Frank Lowy and Harry Triguboff of their higher property perches.

The Hong Kong-listed Shimao Property Holdings, one of China's largest real estate developers, has  more than 70 projects under way, including colorful projects such as Ningbo Shimao Sea Dawn and Kunshan Shimao Butterfly Bay.

Young Jason Xu told Hamish McDonald in 2004 that his Australian education had helped create a more stable, well-planned company than most Chinese counterparts.

"We have 10-year planning on how our company is going to grow," he said.

"If you have a formal education your company will be more formal. Local companies go from step one to step five and then step 10.

"They miss a lot of details and find a lot of mistakes late."

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