(Bloomberg) — The prediction was classic Jack Ma, as provocative because it was prescient.“That is the period of the web,” the Chinese language billionaire proclaimed in October 2013, simply weeks after his plan to take Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. public in Hong Kong had been scuttled by regulators. “It not belongs to Li Ka-shing.”Ma’s dig on the famed Hong Kong tycoon raised loads of eyebrows on the time, however few would disagree with him now. The previous few years have seen a exceptional shift in fortunes between China’s tech-savvy moguls and their old-school Hong Kong counterparts — a pattern that exhibits few indicators of fading any time quickly.Whilst Xi Jinping’s authorities strikes to curb the clout of Ma and a few of his friends, the mixed wealth of China’s 10 richest individuals has surged threefold since 2016 to $425 billion, in keeping with the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. For Hong Kong, it doubled to $218 billion throughout the identical interval. Li, as soon as Asia’s richest individual, is now ranked No. 13, a number of spots beneath Ma, who finally listed Alibaba in New York in 2014.The modifications underscore the fading relevance of Hong Kong businessmen who constructed their empires on actual property, ports, infrastructure, telecommunications, aviation and retail.At their peak, when the previous British colony was the indispensable gateway to a quickly growing mainland China, Li and his friends had been courted by Beijing for his or her enterprise acumen and entry to abroad capital. As of late their political clout is waning and their companies are more and more seen by traders as stale.What’s extra, Hong Kong’s future as a monetary hub is dealing with an existential menace as China’s Communist Occasion chips away on the “one nation, two programs” framework that has underpinned the town’s success for many years.One consequence has been a dramatic slide within the stock-market valuations for Hong Kong’s greatest conglomerates. Over the previous 5 years, 5 of the town’s high teams — CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd., New World Improvement Co., Henderson Land Improvement Co., Solar Hung Kai Properties Ltd. and Wharf Holdings Ltd. — have persistently traded at deep reductions to their web property.Their shares now fetch simply 0.5 instances e book worth on common, versus 10 for the 5 firms managed by a few of China’s richest tycoons, information compiled by Bloomberg present.“The principle companies of the big Hong Kong firms don’t have a lot development,” stated Andy Wong, founding accomplice at LW Asset Administration within the metropolis. “Traders choose to give attention to development greater than on an organization’s worth,” he stated, including technology-driven sectors are enticing, particularly after the pandemic.Whereas personal household places of work of among the metropolis’s tycoons have pivoted to high-growth investments, their listed companies have been sluggish to catch up. Alternatively, their counterparts throughout the border have leveraged know-how to offer a spread of shopper companies and create wealth. Chinese language tycoons have additionally benefited from the $14.3 trillion financial system’s fast restoration from Covid. China was the one main financial system to increase final 12 months, whereas Hong Kong noticed back-to-back contractions in 2019 and 2020.Most of China’s richest billionaires come from the tech business, together with Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s Pony Ma, Bytedance Ltd. founder Zhang Yiming and NetEase Inc.’s William Ding. The wealth of Zhong Shanshan, China’s present richest individual and founding father of bottled water big Nongfu Spring Co. is nearly $69 billion, greater than double that of Li’s.Lots of Hong Kong’s enterprise empires owe their success to authorities insurance policies that inspired solely a small group of deep-pocketed builders to bid at auctions of land parcels, a system that turned Hong Kong into the world’s most costly property market. The windfall from rising costs allowed the tycoons to diversify into utilities, retail, ports and infrastructure.However that formulation has been troublesome to copy in bigger markets like mainland China because of excessive capital necessities, native competitors and regulatory limitations, stated Richard Harris, founding father of Hong Kong-based Port Shelter Funding Administration.For example, Solar Hung Kai Properties Ltd.’ land financial institution in mainland China is nearly 2.3% of that held by Nation Backyard Holdings Co. owns, a Guangdong-based developer managed by billionaire Yang Huiyan.The result’s that most of the metropolis’s tycoons have targeted on defending their present turf moderately than increasing into new companies, Harris stated. “Lots of them are fairly joyful ensuring they don’t lose” what they’ve, he stated.But even that has confirmed troublesome in recent times as Hong Kong’s financial system was battered by anti-government protests and the pandemic.Solar Hung Kai Properties, the developer led by billionaire brothers Raymond and Thomas Kwok, reported the most important decline in underlying revenue since 2013 for the 12 months ended June. Swire Pacific Ltd., one among metropolis’s two centuries-old British buying and selling corporations, recorded an underlying loss final 12 months, the primary since itemizing in 1959. Its flagship Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. is struggling regardless of a government-led rescue.CK Hutchison, the flagship of the diversified empire Li constructed after his household fled to Hong Kong from the mainland as refugees in 1940, noticed its first revenue drop since a revamp of the conglomerate in 2015. As tensions rise between China and the West, the CK group is dealing with headwinds abroad. Australia blocked it from buying an area fuel pipeline operator over nationwide safety considerations in 2018.A few of Hong Kong’s conglomerates have began trying additional afield for development alternatives. New World Improvement Co., which is into infrastructure constructing, resorts and procuring malls, is accelerating its growth into insurance coverage, well being care and schooling in mainland China. Chief Government Officer Adrian Cheng has stated he needs to develop the non-property service companies. A lot of the hassle “revolves round non-traditional companies,” a spokeswoman stated.Swire Pacific is investing in health-care teams in mainland China. Jardine Matheson Holdings Ltd., the proprietor of luxurious resort group Mandarin Oriental Worldwide Ltd., is partnering with personal fairness agency Hillhouse Capital Administration Ltd. to search for funding alternatives in Better China and Southeast Asia.Representatives for Solar Hung Kai declined to remark, whereas CK group and Wharf didn’t reply to requests for remark. Swire stated the group’s monetary power and skill to speculate stay sturdy, and is taking a look at new sectors. Henderson Land stated it’s been diversifying from property, with a robust presence in Hong Kong and China, and has been incorporating sustainable applied sciences.Li’s private funding car, Horizons Ventures, has been investing in plant-based meals, renewable vitality and digital companies. The agency’s early wager in Zoom Video Communications Inc. surged to $11 billion final 12 months through the pandemic, or one-third of Li’s wealth. He was additionally an early backer of Fb Inc., Spotify Know-how SA and Siri.The post-pandemic restoration can be essential for Hong Kong’s tycoons to contemplate related bets on rising industries, in keeping with Falcon Chan, a accomplice at Deloitte China.“It’s crucial to consider what’s the subsequent huge wager,” Chan stated. “What a few of these huge guys do within the subsequent one or two years can have an amazing affect in the event that they wish to pivot.”(Updates with land financial institution particulars of within the 15-th paragraph.)Extra tales like this can be found on bloomberg.comSubscribe now to remain forward with essentially the most trusted enterprise information supply.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.