Ming empress

Ming Chu Hsu is a businesswoman residing in Hong Kong, with various investment properties in Portugal. Yet no-one seems to know Ming, who is characterised by complete discretion. 

Neither has the fact that Ming Chu Hsu made the largest donation in Portugal in living memory made it more known. The businesswoman gave €2 million to a public university in Lisbon but, as news, there is little more than a photo and a communiqué from the Nova School of Business and Economics. 

From the Nova press release it is learned that Ms. Ming ‘is an established entrepreneur in real estate and luxury goods who has founded several major companies, and has a clear philanthropic passion.’ 

“I’m always looking for projects with impact and Nova SBE is definitely one of those,” Ms. Ming is quoted as saying on the Nova SBE website. “The new campus, a step into the future, will enable a new learning approach in a school more and more engaged with the corporate world and society. Nova SBE is already an internationally recognised talent hub and the new campus will drive the school to the top of the European league.” 

But why did Ming Chu Shu give €2 million to this university? That was one of the questions we would like to have asked her but the only response we got was that “at the moment Ms. Ming has been travelling quite often, and prefers to be very low profile so [we must] politely decline this interview.”  

We naturally persisted, not least because there was plenty of time . . . but without success. 

Offshore Leaks 

The name of the businesswoman is one of those listed in the Offshore Leaks database, by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists – the so-called ‘Paradise Papers’ (2017 & 2018) from the offshore law firm Appleby.  

Appleby’s structured data was added in November 2017, and the corporate registries’ data was incorporated December 19, 2017 (Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados and Nevis) and February 14, 2018 (Cook Islands, Malta and Samoa). 

This is because Ms. Ming has used a company incorporated in Malta, from the offshore framework, to drive all investments in Portugal. 

According to the information collected by Macau Business from the Paradise Papers, Ms. Ming created this Meformosa from another offshore – Leslela International – this time based in the British Virgin Islands. 

Interestingly, the Malta company is called Meformosa and several of its companies in Portugal derive from that name: AformosaReformosaWeformosa, etc. (Formosa – meaning ‘beautiful island’ in Portuguese – is the name given by Iberian Peninsula discoverers of the island now known as Taiwan). 

Real estate 

Through Reformosa, a company registered in Portugal, the businesswoman is currently constructing one of the largest real estate developments in that country in terms of investment volume. 

Bloom Marinha, for example, with a budget of €100 million, appeals to the higher sector with luxury villas. This is probably the biggest investment by Ming, although shared by another investor, but over the last 10 years the businesswoman has initiated several real estate projects in the Lisbon area through various companies. 

It was not possible to unearth a comprehensive list but Macau Business research surely points to a dozen. Ming Chu Hsu is the largest foreign real estate investor in the Portuguese capital or one of the largest at this time – witness the number of companies registered at nº 24 Miguel Lupi Street, where Meformosa was founded. 

Columbia University 

To date we have learned that Ming Chu Hsu is a resident of Hong Kong, has an offshore operation in Malta, and several companies / investments in Portugal. 

Via the Columbia Business School website we learn that the Taiwan-born businesswoman went to live in New York at the age of 17, ‘where she graduated with a co-major in maths and finance from New York University. As one of the youngest females enrolled in Columbia’s Executive MBA Programme, she received her MBA in 1992.’  

Having lived more than 20 years in the United States, she is also a US citizen. 

During her professional years in Manhattan, Ms. Hsu worked on Wall Street, and following her studies at Columbia established TRM, which managed US and global real estate assets.  

‘Currently, Ms. Hsu is based in the Greater China region as an entrepreneur with her husband and two children,’ says the website. Since the late 1990s, she has ambitiously founded several growth companies.’  

In this profile, her philanthropic leanings are underlined: Ms. Hsu’s motivation and passion, nonetheless, are more philanthropic. She has committed and successfully delivered her goodwill and vision to several globally recognised New York based non-profit organisations, such as Orbis, toward their mission and activities in China. 

In Portugal, besides the €2 million given to the university, it is known that the businesswoman is helping build and equip a basic school in the Mozambican city of Quelimane in collaboration with a Portuguese town hall.