The chairman of the world's hottest stock, AMTD, is now worth nearly $37 billion, more than Li Ka-Shing.

The chairman of the world's hottest stock, AMTD, is now worth nearly $37 billion, more than Li Ka-Shing.

Calvin Choi, 43, is a Hong Kong banker who appears to have amassed an immense fortune at record speed

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 firm has skyrocketed 14,000% for reasons his firm can’t explain

Now his holdings appear to be worth as much as $36

8 billion—based on AMTD Digital’s stock price at Wednesday’s close

But his stake in AMTD IDEA, which is AMTD Digital’s parent company and through which he holds the shares, is worth just under $500 million, illustrating just how out of whack the stock’s insane valuation is at the moment

(Because of the way the holdings are structured, Forbes would not currently include Choi in our billionaires’ ranks

) A spokesperson for holding company AMTD Group was able to confirm Choi’s shareholdings, but declined to comment on the market values of those holdings

AMTD Digital is a thinly traded stock, and yet the company’s market cap now stands at a whopping $203 billion

That gives the company a price-to-sales ratio of 8,077, whereas Robinhood Markets has a P/S ratio of only 2

73

Comparisons are being drawn to meme stocks that gain a cult-like following of investors who collectively influence the price of shares, but it’s unclear if that’s the case here: “It’s a combination of a few things—a small float, some likely short interest and now the meme stock angle,” explains Brendan Ahern, chief investment officer at China-focused ETF provider KraneShares

Remarkably, for a company that’s now bigger than the likes of Walt Disney and Morgan Stanley by market cap, AMTD Digital said it has just 50 employees across offices in Hong Kong and Singapore as of February

And its financial performance fails to support its huge market cap

For the 2021 fiscal year ended in April, AMTD Digital reported a 16

9% increase in revenue from a year earlier to HK$195

8 million (about $25

2 million) and an 8

9% rise in profit to HK$172

5 million, partially a result of gains it booked from equity investments in private companies

Choi, a former UBS managing director, effectively controls AMTD Digital through a web of companies

His wholly-owned company, Infinity Power Investments, holds a 20

4% stake in AMTD Digital’s parent company, AMTD IDEA (also goes by the name AMTD International), but has majority voting power (51

3%) through Class B stock

AMTD IDEA itself owns 88

7%, including all the Class B shares, of AMTD Digital

Shares of AMTD IDEA, which is dual-listed on the New York Stock Exchange and the Singapore Exchange, also soared

Its stock price more than tripled since Monday and boasts a market cap of $2 billion as of Wednesday’s close

According to Forbes’ estimates, Choi’s stake in AMTD IDEA would be worth about $480 million on paper

Another method of calculating his paper net worth is using his indirect stake in AMTD Digital that’s worth $36

8 billion—making him the sixth-richest person in Asia on Forbes’ Real-Time Billionaires Rankings, surpassing Hong Kong’s richest man Li Ka-shing and Tencent’s Ma Huateng—if prices hold steady

AMTD Digital shares plummeted 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 of such calculations but want to kindly remind you that AMTD Group, operating our IDEA [international, digital, education and assets] strategy, owns more businesses other than AMTD IDEA and AMTD Digital

” Choi declined to comment further through the same spokesperson

AMTD Group was cofounded by Li Ka-shing’s CK Hutchison and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia back in 2003 to provide financial services

The company, whose name stands for “add, minus, times, divide,” was later controlled by the private equity arm of Morgan Stanley until 2015

In a statement on Thursday, Li’s CK Group said it had sold a majority of its shares in AMTD Group nearly a decade ago

The company also said that it is currently in talks with AMTD Group to offload its remaining shares of less than 4% in the company

CK Group added that it has no representatives on the board of AMTD Group, nor is it involved in any way in its operations

Choi, whose career includes previous stints 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 state news agency China News Service three years ago that he had wanted to build “an investment bank of Chinese people” and help China’s enterprises expand globally

That’s when Choi started to expand AMTD Group’s business to investment banking, asset management, insurance brokerage and others

Choi launched AMTD IDEA amid a company restructuring in 2019

AMTD IDEA bills itself as Asia’s leading independent investment bank and has underwritten 54 initial public offerings, mostly for Chinese companies looking to list in the U

S

and Hong Kong

Some of its prominent clients include smartphone maker Xiaomi and delivery behemoth Meituan

However, nearly 90% of the U

S

IPOs the firm underwrote had collapsed, short-seller Hindenburg Research said in a 2021 research report

AMTD IDEA is currently one of the companies at risk of being delisted from the U

S

stock exchange for failing to be inspected by the country’s audit watchdog for three consecutive years

Despite doubts and criticisms, AMTD IDEA attracted major investors like Century City International Holdings, the property and hotel company owned by members of Hong Kong’s billionaire Lo family

Other early backers include Xiaomi, Morgan

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