A tycoon has passed.
The founder of the Hong Kong property company New World Development (NDVLY) , Cheng Yu-tung, died on Sept. 29 at the age of 91. He was Hong Kong's third-richest man, with coffers of $15 billion.
That leaves the leadership of the company in the hands of his grandson, Adrian Cheng, and granddaughter, Sonia Cheng, both Harvard University graduates. Their father, Henry, remains as chairman, while making a place for their other brother, Michael.
Besides the developer, they also oversee Chow Tai Fook (CJEWY) , a jewelry store that you literally can't avoid in Hong Kong. Walk along the street and you will see one of their stores. Failing that, you will see one of its advertisements on the back of a bus. It's everywhere.
The patriarch's death rams home the point of just how old the majority of Hong Kong's most-influential businessmen are. And they are all men, after their slightly crazy female counterpart Nina Wang died in 2007, the richest woman in Asia at the time.
All the tycoons, the original ones at least, will soon pass, too. They are all strong businessmen, but they benefited from smart land purchases, for the most part, as Hong Kong developed from nothing. As the Cultural Revolution occurred in the mainland next door and drove people across the border, they created places for them to rent or buy.
That wealth, in terms of the founders, is coming to an end, unless they also managed to build the fountain of youth.
Hong Kong's richest man, Li Ka-shing (88), remains at the helm of Cheung Kong Property Holdings (CHEUY) , as well a the infrastructure company CK Hutchison Holdings (CKHUY) , which has the excellent Hong Kong exchange ticker of HK:0001. He's worth a measly $32.1 billion, according to Forbes, ranking him No. 20 in the world.
The list also includes Hong Kong's second-richest man, Lee Shau-kee (88), the founder and chairman of Henderson Land, who is worth $24 billion, according to Forbes.
I could go on, but the point is that Hong Kong's original tycoons are on their way out. Their heirs will have a harder time to fill the tycoon shoes.
It's a Hong Kong thing -- dai gwan, or big leader, is the Cantonese phrase that, via Japanese adoption and conversion of the pronunciation, gave rise to the term tycoon in the first place.
When I say a tycoon passed, I'm also thinking about the two recent typhoons (dai fong = big wind) that also recently passed through this neighborhood. The only other Cantonese word that has made its way into common use in English is kumquat: gam = gold, and quat refers to that kind of fruit.
Typhoon season should be ending, as we head into Hong Kong's dry time of year. And we'll see the kumquats at the lunar new year when that comes early in 2017.
How many tycoons, though, will we see pass by soon?