Property tycoon Hui Ka Yan (or Xu Jiayin), whose company China Evergrande backed many poverty alleviation projects last year. Photo: China Evergrande
Property tycoon Hui Ka Yan (or Xu Jiayin), whose company China Evergrande backed many poverty alleviation projects last year. Photo: China Evergrande

It may not come as too much of a surprise that while China Evergrande chairman Hui Ka-yan, or Xu Jiayin, has become the richest man in China, his company was also the most generous of all Hong Kong-listed companies in terms of donations in 2016.

China Evergrande donated HK$1.79 billion (US$229 million), over six times the HK$297 million it donated in 2015.

That information comes from Sodata Analytics Foundation Association, which tracks donations by all local listed companies based on their annual disclosures.

The donations came despite a 50% drop in the Shenzhen-based company’s annual profit to HK$5.09 billion in 2016. Indeed China Evergrande’s donations accounted for a whopping 35% of its profit. And the developer’s profit shot up quickly to HK$18.8 billion in the first half of this year.

Interestingly, China Evergrande shares have also surged six times over the last 12 months, although it is unlikely that the donations are linked to the performance of its shares.

According to the company’s annual report, the property developer donated funds for poverty alleviation, as well as multiple regional funds for college and university education, to grant scholarships and purchase teaching devices.

China Evergrande gave its first donation of 1 billion yuan (U$152 million) for poverty alleviation in January 2016. One month later, it funded the construction of the first batch of 40 key assistance projects, starting 200 farming and animal husbandry industrialization bases.

By the end of 2016, it helped 80,500 people in Dafang County begin to overcome poverty, accomplishing 45% of its poverty alleviation goals.

With these projects, China Evergrande dwarfed HSBC, which was the top donor in 2015. HSBC donated some HK$1.06 billion last year, down 33%.

Other top donors

The other top donors (figures in HK dollars) were: China Shenhua ($884 million), Glencore ($652 million), Tencent ($637 million), Country Garden ($469 million), New World Development ($424 million), Standard Chartered Bank ($331 million), Minsheng Bank ($356 million), First Pacific ($232 million) and Prudential ($190 million).

These companies contributed half of the total donations of HK$12.8 billion, up 24%, by all Hong Kong-listed companies. Up all, 21 listed companies gave away nine-digit dollar donations last year.

But not all companies are charitable. Some 48% of companies did not make any donations, while 21% gave less than $HK500,000 a year.

If anyone is wondering why tycoon Li Ka-shing is not mentioned, that is because he made donations mainly through his own foundation, not via any listed flagships.

The 89-year-old tycoon has donated over HK$20 billion to support healthcare and education initiatives since his foundation was set up in 1980.

As the old saying goes, it is always better to give than to receive.

Property tycoon Hui Ka-yan is now China’s richest man