Tycoon donates entire fortune, worth $1.2B

By QIAN YANFENG (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-04-23 07:12
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Philanthropist's $1.2b donation unprecedented

SHANGHAI -- A real estate tycoon has donated all his assets of 8.2 billion yuan ($1.2 billion) to charity, making him China's top philanthropist.

Tycoon donates entire fortune, worth $1.2B
China's top philanthropist Yu Pengnian hopes his move encourages other Chinese billionaires to follow suit.[Gao Erqiang /China Daily]

Yu Pengnian, an 88-year-old Shenzhen hotel and real estate entrepreneur, on Thursday donated his remaining fortune worth 3.2 billion yuan to the Yu Pengnian Foundation -- a charity named after him.

The amount, plus what he had donated before, raised the value of the Hong Kong-registered fund to $1.2 billion.

"This will be my last donation. I have nothing more to give away," he said.

"It will all be for charity, no part of it will be inherited by anyone, no part will be used to do business or for investments," he told reporters.

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The foundation now has $260 million in bank deposits and a Hong Kong and Shenzhen property portfolio worth nearly $1 billion, which is expected to contribute an additional $50 million each year to the foundation.

The foundation, which is mandated to make donations to health, education and disaster relief, has so far funded over 150,000 cataract removal operations across China since 2003 and helped establish a number of Project Hope schools in the western rural areas.

Yu topped the latest Hurun Philanthropy List, released on Thursday, as he has done for five consecutive years for donating $910 million over the period.

Yu - ranked 432nd on the 2009 Hurun Rich List - said he hoped his move would encourage other Chinese billionaires to do more, adding his fortune paled in comparison to some other magnates in Hong Kong and on the Chinese mainland.

"My fortune is just a drop in the bucket compared to them but I have a point of view that is very different from others, I will not leave my fortune to my children," he said.

"If my children are more capable than me, it's not necessary to leave a lot of money to them. If they are incompetent, a lot of money will only be harmful to them," said Yu, who has been dubbed "China's Carnegie" for his consistent donations over the past two decades.

He added his children agree with him on this point.

Having built his business from scratch, Yu attributed his philanthropic motivation to the hardship he underwent when he was young.

He has made special donations to patients with cataracts because he once suffered from the same disease. "I like to support the poor because I used to be poor and I understand the misery of the poor people," he said.

Yu still works long hours every day and spends two-thirds of his time doing charity, said Peng Zhibing, an assistant.

For the past few years, Yu has even been traveling to China's western poor regions to give money to those in need.

"Providing timely help to the really poor and making them live better are my aim and wish," he said.