Raymond, You Will Be Greatly MissedBy Philip Klapwijk
Managing Director, Precious Metals Insights
Raymond Chan Fat-chu, a legend in the Hong Kong and global gold markets, passed away on 4th September. In recent years, while maintaining a lower profile, he was still active behind the scenes doing business in China and promoting the Hong Kong-Qianhai project on behalf of the Chinese Gold & Silver Exchange Society (CGSE), of which he was a past President. However, this was rather small beer for the man whom the local press had once dubbed Hong Kong’s ‘King of Gold’.
Raymond was indeed one of the key players in the Hong Kong gold market in its heyday in the 1980s, when the former British colony was the fourth largest trading centre for the precious metal after London, New York and Zurich. He was an early adaptor, for instance, in the operation of gold consignments and cross border trade from Hong Kong.
In 1990, he publicly listed Tem Fat Hing Fung (Holdings) Ltd, the property and gold trading company that his father had established in 1949. As his activities expanded, in 1996, Raymond spun-off the gold business from Tem Fat Hing Fung (Holdings) Ltd. and publicly listed this in the name of RNA Holdings Ltd, the corporate entity that most came to know him by.
It was in the 1990s that Raymond Chan, assisted by his younger brother Alex, who also recently passed away, became a major force in Hong Kong gold trading and also a pioneer in the emerging mainland China market. It had been clear to him from an early stage that Deng Xiao Ping’s economic reforms would one day result in China becoming the world’s largest consumer of gold and Raymond wanted to be part of this. Already at the beginning of the 1990s, he was working closely with the Chinese authorities to liberalise the China gold market and facilitate official gold imports into the country.
Raymond was also a visionary when it came to developing jewellery demand in China, with his companies investing in manufacturing facilities and, especially, in retail outlets. In 1998, he opened the Jewellery Gallery in Shanghai’s Westgate Mall, at the time the largest branded jewellery store in China. During the latter part of the same decade Raymond was also intimately involved in the modernisation of several Chinese gold mining companies’ operations and management.
Problems stemming from investments that went bad in the early 2000s hit Raymond hard. In their aftermath, he was eager to rehabilitate himself and had made giant steps in this direction, when he was sadly struck down with the illness that eventually ended his life.
For those who knew him, particularly during his prime in the 1980s and 1990s, Raymond was a singular individual, with a relentless focus on success in all areas of his business. Yet, this extraordinary drive rarely detracted from his positive and friendly personality or crimped his highly sociable nature. Those who wined and dined with him over the years, especially at the annual Chinese New Year banquets which Raymond hosted for all who were participants in the worldwide bullion market, will surely recall his generosity and good company.
He will be greatly missed.
Raymond was a strong believer that all gold business is derived from the effective management of physical gold flow. He recommended that the CGSE extend its reach southward to Singapore and ASEAN in collaboration with the Singapore Bullion Market Association, to which the SBMA feels deeply indebted. The inaugural Asia-Pacific Precious Metals Conference (APPMC) would not have been so successful without the support of Raymond and the CGSE from the beginning.— from the SBMA team