Secrets of Longevity

Hans Michael Jebsen on April 17, 2008. (Asia Society Hong Kong Centre)
HONG KONG, April 17, 2008 - It's been estimated that 0.3% of family businesses are able to survive more than 100 years. With that figure in mind, Asia Society's Hong Kong Centre has invited some of those at the helm of family businesses spanning at least three generations to speak in its newly-launched Asian Families Series.

Hans Michael Jebsen and his wife Desiree opened the doors of their beautiful home on the Peak to the Asia Society, recounted the story of how his ancestors arrived in Asia in the late 19th century and became firmly entrenched in the region.

As Chairman of Jebsen & Co. Ltd., Jebsen is the fourth-generation Jebsen to head the Hong Kong-headquartered business group. During the evening, he discussed key factors that contributed to the company’s success and the Jebsen succession model. The family firm is now in its 114th year, employing more than 4,000 staff and with operations in 15 countries. What started over a hundred years ago as a general trading company has evolved into a focused marketing and distribution organization.

Later, on June 3, guests at the historic Peninsula Hotel owned by Sir Michael Kadoorie were captivated by the stories told by the Chairman of Hong Kong & Shanghai Hotels Ltd. and China Light & Power Holdings.

Hailing from one of the most prominent families in Hong Kong, Sir Michael described how the Kadoories arrived in the city from Iraq via India at the end of the 19th century. He explained how his family moved to Shanghai in the early 20th century, made a fortune trading rubber, and subsequently invested heavily in a hotel and a power company. He concluded with an account of how his father returned to Hong Kong to rebuild the company after the Sino-Japanese War, having lost almost everything.