HK tycoon announces break-up in newspaper ads

Joseph Lau Luen-hung leaves a restaurant with a girlfriend in Hong Kong March 17, 2014 Image copyright Alamy
Image caption Mr Lau said he would continue to support his children with Ms Lui

A Hong Kong billionaire has placed full-page ads in local newspapers announcing his split with a girlfriend.

Joseph Lau Luen-hung said he broke up with Yvonne Lui in 2014 but had given her HK$2bn ($0.26bn; £0.21bn) worth of gifts during their relationship.

Ranked as the world's 65th richest man by Forbes with a net worth of $13.1bn, and a convicted money-launderer, Mr Lau made his fortune in real estate.

His ad sparked a debate in Hong Kong on the meaning of wealth.

Mr Lau, 65, has two children with Ms Lui, who is believed to be 26 years his junior.

He said his announcement was made in response to "untrue reports" about their relationship.

Image caption Netizens said Lau's dramatic break-up with his girlfriend showed that wealth doesn't necessarily mean happiness

Ms Lui was now "a very wealthy woman" after receiving "lots of money, jewellery and other gifts" from him and no longer needed his "financial support", he said, though he added he would continue to support their children.

A former beauty pageant contestant, Ms Lui has a PhD degree in chemical engineering from King's College London.

In an email to the BBC, Ms Lui described Mr Lau as "a dedicated father" and will "eventually overcome any obstacles". She also said there were bigger global issues, like child malnutrition and child abuse.

She had earlier released a cryptic statement on her website (in Chinese): "The children and I hope that you will recover soon and distance yourself from people who have been troubling you."

'Wealth doesn't equal happiness'

Mr Lau's very public announcement has become the talk of Hong Kong, with many questioning the motives behind it.

Mr Lau divorced his first wife in 1992 and has two adult children. He also has two children with his current girlfriend, a former entertainment reporter almost 30 years younger than him.

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He has been seen in a wheelchair and is suffering from renal failure, heart disease and diabetes.

"Lau is getting seriously sick. The fight for inheritance will begin soon!" said one Facebook user.

"The rich are troubled by something that the poor will never trouble themselves with. How much is $2bn? What are private jets? What do children mean? What does love mean? What does a family mean?" wrote by Stephen Ko on Facebook.

"Wealth doesn't equal happiness. If you are happy now, you are already more blessed than he is."

Mr Lau, who was convicted of bribery and money-laundering in Macau in 2014, is well-known for his love affairs with movie stars and his extravagant romantic gestures.

It is not the first time he has used newspaper ads to get his message across.

In 2006, he bought a full-page ad anonymously wishing happy birthday to an ex-girlfriend.

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