At the beginning of 2015, Li Ka-shing, who has held the title of the richest person in Hong Kong for the past seventeen years with an estimated personal wealth of $33 billion, shocked analysts by announcing the restructuring of his massive business empire. He intends to combine all the non-property assets of his two businesses, Hutchinson Whampoa and Cheung Kong Holdings.
Conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa, whose business ventures span ports, retail, energy, infrastructure, real estate, and mobile networks. Li also manages a real estate portfolio that includes residential, commercial, hotel, and industrial space through Cheung Kong Holdings, his publicly traded investment firm.
They will both now be incorporated in the Cayman Islands while still conducting business in Hong Kong.
Analysts claim that moving the majority of Li’s substantial wealth from Hong Kong to the little-known tax haven in the Caribbean will increase transparency, and shares of Li’s companies rose 14% after the announcement.
Nine thousand miles away in the Cayman Islands, the news was received favorably as markets roared their approval of his reorganization. With this public endorsement from one of Asia’s richest men, Grand Cayman, the largest of the three islands in the northern Caribbean chain, further solidifies its reputation in the offshore financial community. Grand Cayman is already the domicile of over 40% of Hong Kong-listed companies.
Rich Person’s Investment
According to Nick Joseph, a Cayman Islands attorney of law, “Hollywood has created the image of people hiding money in the Cayman Islands but you try opening a bank account here if you think this is the place to hide your ill-gotten gains.” “In comparison to opening one in Switzerland, it takes much longer and necessitates more background checks. Cayman is well known as a trustworthy jurisdiction in reputable and critical circles.”
Ken Dart is one billionaire who has made significant prior investments in the Cayman Islands. The businessman, who was born in Michigan and whose family’s fortune was originally derived from the production of Styrofoam cups, is regarded as the second-largest landowner in Grand Cayman, after the government. His investments there include the Dart Yacht Club, an impressive new highway, a Kimpton Hotel, and Camana Bay, a 500-acre development with schools, offices, restaurants, and shops that is incredibly well-liked by Cayman’s ex-pat population.
The Financial Situation of Cayman
Cayman is a British Overseas Territory with a governor chosen by Queen Elizabeth. It is located south of Cuba and northwest of Jamaica. The islands have advanced considerably since then. In the 1970s, there were 10,000 people living there; today, there are 56,000 people, half of whom are foreigners. Along with the wonderful Caribbean climate, world-class sandy beaches, and arguably the best diving in the world, this island’s lack of taxes on income, corporations, capital gains, death duties, or VAT explains the appeal for many of its residents. Although the US makes up 80% of visitors to Cayman, there are 130 different nationalities represented among the population.
Cayman is the sixth-largest banking hub in the world and has an excellent AAA financial rating. It has one of the lowest rates of crime and the highest standard of living in the Caribbean. According to Charles Weston-Baker of London-based global real estate firm Savills, security is a significant draw for people moving there.
According to Weston Baker, Cayman is a First World nation in the Caribbean with a significant international business community and well-developed, varied facilities like hospitals, schools, golf courses, and hotels. “There are 150 top-notch restaurants in Cayman, compared to five or six on other popular islands like Barbados. Although it lacks some of the Caribbean islands’ architectural allure, it offers a secure and refined way of life.”
Property choices range from modest inland homes to opulent beachfront condos. West of Grand Cayman, along Seven Mile Beach, is where real estate costs are the highest, with prices rising to $1,300 per square foot.
An excellent illustration is The Watercolours Residences. On Seven Mile Beach, there is a recently finished complex with 60 apartments spread over nine floors that is the highest residential building in the Cayman Islands. It has wonderful sea views, shared amenities like a top-notch gym and a pool right on the beach, and constant security monitoring. The starting price for the final 12 three- and four-bedroom apartments is $3,900,000 for 3,700 square feet.
One 18-hole and two 9-hole golf courses can be found on Grand Cayman. At Ironwood, a fourth Arnold Palmer-designed course is anticipated. Freehold apartments, villas, and land plots are available in the 600-acre Grand Cayman sports and real estate development starting at $250,000.
Because so much of the housing stock was hastily rebuilt after Hurricane Ivan devastated the island in 2004, Cayman’s architecture is generally uninspiring. Camden House, located not far from the vacation destination of Rum Point at the far eastern end of Grand Cayman, is one example of contemporary architecture. It has four bedrooms, a big pool, and a garden that leads to the sea. It was designed by British architect Nick Tye and is for sale for $6,850,000.
Hon. Moses Kirkconnell, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism recognize the value of the island’s robust infrastructure in drawing tourists. Flight accessibility from all over the world is increasing, and just recently, contracts for a new airport terminal, a $50 million investment, were awarded. According to Kirkconnell, the latest arrival figures in the Cayman Islands are anticipated to increase by 12% over the regional average.
According to Mr. Kirkconnell, “Our policy is to make the Cayman Islands a top-tier financial destination.” “This Caribbean region is filled with sand, sea, and sun, but Cayman goes above and beyond with excellent roads, hospitals, and security.”
What is the world’s most annoying myth about the Cayman Islands, in his opinion?
He laughs, “That we are a band of pirates. “Sincerely, I believe that more and more people are realizing how advanced we are. We have such a small global presence. We must promote Cayman as a brand.”