Chairman of the World’s Most Popular Stocks AMTD Now Worth Nearly $37 Billion, More Than Li Ka-Shing


Calvin Choi manages AMTD Digital, the world’s most popular inventory today, through a web of companies. UKTN estimates that his wealth makes him the sixth richest person in Asia, at least on paper, but few think it’s close to that much or think it will hold up.

By Zinnia Lee, John Kang and Robert Olsen

huhThe ong Kong banker Calvin Choi seems to have amassed an immense fortune in record time. Less than a month after the 43-year-old listed his AMTD Digital on the New York Stock Exchange, his stake in the digital financial services company has skyrocketed 14,000% for reasons his company can’t explain. Now his assets appear to be worth a whopping $36.8 billion. based on AMTD Digital’s share price on Thursday. But his share in AMTD IDEAAMTD Digital’s parent company, is worth less than $500 million, illustrating just how bad the stock’s insane valuation is right now.

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A spokesman for holding company AMTD Group was able to confirm Choi’s shares, but declined to comment on the market value of those holdings. AMTD Digital is a little traded stock, yet the company’s market cap now stands at a staggering $203 billion. That gives the company a price-to-sell ratio of 8,077, while Robinhood Markets has a P/S ratio of just 2.73.

Comparisons are made with meme stocks gaining a cult-like following from investors collectively influencing the price of stocks, but it’s unclear if that’s the case here: “It’s a combination of a few things – a small float, a likely short-term interest rate and now the meme stock corner,” explains Brendan Ahern, chief investment officer at China-focused ETF provider KraneShares.

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Remarkably, for a company now larger than Walt Disney and Morgan Stanley by market capitalization, AMTD Digital said it has just 50 employees in offices in Hong Kong and Singapore as of February. Its financial performance cannot support its massive market capitalization. For the 2021 fiscal year ending in April, AMTD Digital reported a 16.9% increase in revenue from a year earlier to HK$195.8 million (approximately $25.2 million) and an 8.9% increase in profit to HK$172.5 million, partly due to realized gains from equity investments in private companies.

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Choi, a former director of UBS, effectively controls AMTD Digital through a web of companies. His wholly owned business, Infinity Power Investments, has a 20.4% stake in AMTD Digital’s parent company, AMTD IDEA (also known as AMTD International), but has a majority voting power (51.3%) through Class B shares. AMTD IDEA itself owns 88.7%, including all Class B shares, of AMTD Digital.

Shares of AMTD IDEA, which are doubly listed on the New York Stock Exchange and the Singapore Exchange, also rose. The stock price has more than tripled since Monday and has a market cap of $2 billion as of Thursday. According to UKTN’ According to estimates, Choi’s stake in AMTD IDEA would be worth about $480 million on paper. Another method of calculating his paper net worth is by using his indirect stake in AMTD Digital, which is worth $36.8 billion, making him the sixth richest person in Asia by UKTNReal-time billionaire rankings, outpacing Hong Kong’s richest man Li Ka-shing and Tencent’s Ma Huateng – if prices hold steady. AMTD Digital shares plunged 34.5% on Wednesday.

When asked to comment on Choi’s net worth calculation, a spokesperson for AMTD Group, which effectively controls AMTD IDEA through a 32.5% equity stake, said: “We see no problem with such calculations, but would like to kindly remind you that AMTD Group, which is our IDEA strategy, owns more companies than AMTD IDEA and AMTD Digital.” Choi declined to comment further through the same spokesperson.

AMTD Group was co-founded in 2003 by Li Ka-shing’s CK Hutchison and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia to provide financial services. AMTD Group, whose name stands for “add, minus, times, divide”, was later controlled by Morgan Stanley’s private equity arm until 2015.

In a statement on Thursday, Li’s CK Group said it sold a majority of its shares in AMTD Group nearly a decade ago. The company added that it plans to sell its remaining less than 4% shares in AMTD Group. CK Group also said it has no representatives on AMTD Group’s board of directors and is not involved in its activities in any way.

Early backers of AMTD IDEA include Xiaomi, Morgan Stanley Private Equity Asia, and Sun Hung Kai & Co.

Choi, whose career has included previous positions at PwC Hong Kong and Citigroup, joined AMTD Group in 2016 as Chairman and CEO. The Hong Kong citizen, who returned from Canada with a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Waterloo, told Chinese state media three years ago that he wanted to build “a Chinese investment bank” and help Chinese enterprises expand globally. Then Choi started to expand AMTD Group’s business to investment banking, wealth management, insurance brokerage and others.

Choi launched AMTD IDEA amid a restructuring of the company in 2019. AMTD IDEA bills itself as Asia’s leading investment bank and has underwritten 54 IPOs, primarily for Chinese companies listed in Hong Kong and the US. Some of its prominent customers include smartphone maker Xiaomi and delivery man Meituan. However, nearly 90% of the U.S. IPOs the company underwritten had collapsed, Hindenburg Research said in a 2021 study. AMTD IDEA is currently one of the companies at risk of being delisted from the U.S. stock market for being delisted for three consecutive years. have not been inspected by the country’s control watchdog.

Despite doubts and criticism, AMTD IDEA has attracted major investors such as Century City International Holdings, the real estate and hotel company owned by members of the billionaire Lo family in Hong Kong. Other early backers include Xiaomi, Morgan Stanley Private Equity Asia, Sun Hung Kai & Co and David Chu, the chairman and CEO of real estate developer Far East Consortium, according to a 2019 prospectus.

AMTD Digital was also launched in 2019 and the company says it operates as a “one-stop platform for digital solutions”. The company markets one of its core businesses, the SpiderNet Ecosystem Solutions, as a “super connector and digital accelerator” for Asian-based enterprises. According to AMTD Digital’s prospectus, the SpiderNet ecosystem is primarily a subscription scheme that gives clients access to investors, business leaders and academic professionals.

AMTD Digital’s other businesses include a virtual bank jointly developed with Xiaomi, investments in startups, collaborations with financial conferences such as the World’s Economic Forum and the Singapore Fintech Festival, as well as investments in film productions.

After working in the financial industry for over two decades, Choi has raised eyebrows about some of his work practices. Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission recently ordered Choi out of the industry for two years after he failed to report potential conflicts of interest to UBS during his time at the investment bank. Choi has appealed.

The bank veteran was also charged with financial fraud. China Minsheng Investment Group had accused AMTD Group in 2020 of misappropriating funds it entrusted to the Hong Kong-based company for investment, Chinese financial magazine reported Caixin. AMTD Group’s early business partner had reportedly disapproved of Choi with banners in Hong Kong’s central business district. Choi had denied the accusation in a response to Chinese state media Ta Kung Pao and said at the time that he would reserve the right to take legal action.

So far, these hurdles have not held back Choi’s ambitions to build an even bigger company. AMTD Group said it is now present in the metaverse — the digital realm where people can interact virtually. The company recently acquired the French fashion magazine L’Officialewho said it will launch a virtual world on the metaverse platform de sandbox.

“In recent years, I have encountered countless opportunities and countless challenges, especially doubts and misunderstanding from the outside world,” Choi wrote in a statement two years ago in response to the allegations by China Minsheng Investment Group. “There are those who are envious and envious, those who are distant and hateful, and those who maliciously slander.”

“However, entrepreneurs must insist that development is essential,” he added, “and persist in daring to experiment, dare to pioneer, lead reform with groundbreaking ideas.”

– With the help of Jane ho.



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