Thu, Apr 19, 2007 - Page 5 News List

Hong Kong bids farewell to `Little Sweetie'

ELITE GOODBYE The funeral of Asia's richest woman, Nina Wang, was attended by the city's rich and powerful, many of whom were captivated by her unique style

AP , HONG KONG

Hong Kong's rich and powerful bade farewell yesterday to Asia's richest woman, Nina Wang, a pigtailed businesswoman who built her kidnapped husband's company into a real-estate empire.

Wang died on April 3 at age 69. She was reportedly suffering from ovarian cancer, which had spread to her liver and other organs.

The funeral service for Wang, born as Kung Yu-sum (龔如心) in Shanghai, drew the city's business and political elite, including tycoon Li Ka-shing (李嘉誠) and the deputy head of China's representative office in Hong Kong, Li Guikang (黎桂康), who were among Wang's pallbearers.

Wang captivated the public with her girlish dress, big eyes and round face. She wore garish outfits and kept her hair in pigtails. She was nicknamed "Little Sweetie," the Chinese name of a blonde, princess-like girl from a Japanese cartoon fairy tale.

A hearse covered with white flowers and a heart-shaped wreath carried Wang's body for cremation after the funeral service, footage from Hong Kong Cable TV showed.

Her coffin was covered with red roses.

"We are very sad. We are mourning a good friend. We've known her for over 40 years," businessman Cecil Chao (趙世曾) said.

Nina Wang's husband, Teddy Wang (王德輝), was declared legally dead in 1999, nine years after he was mysteriously abducted. He was never seen again, despite the family's payment of US$33 million in ransom to the kidnappers.

The disposition of the fortune brought her into a sensational legal battle with her elderly father-in-law, Wang Din-shin (王廷歆). The two presented rival wills that both lay claim to Teddy Wang's fortune.

Wang Din-shin prevailed in court initially but Nina Wang won on appeal.

On Tuesday, Hong Kong leader Donald Tsang (曾蔭權) and his predecessor Tung Chee-hwa (董建華) paid respects to Wang, Asia's richest woman according to Forbes magazine, which this year estimated her to be worth US$4.2 billion.

Nina Wang expanded her husband's company Chinachem Group into a massive private property developer, with office towers and apartment complexes throughout Hong Kong.

It is widely expected another dispute over Wang's estate will begin soon after her funeral.

News reports say she intended to donate a large portion of her fortune to charity, but an unknown person has claimed to be her sole beneficiary.

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