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Shangri-La Asia Ltd. is the Asian region’s leading and fastest-growing luxury hotel group. The company, part of Malaysia’s Kuok Group, operates 45 hotels throughout Asia. In 2005, the company also began a drive into the European and North American markets, including the launch of construction on its first European hotel, in London, expected to be completed in 2009. The company also has opened its first hotel in the Middle East, in Dubai, and in the Maldives. Mainland China, however, forms the heart of the company’s empire, with more than 20 hotels in operation, and at least 15 more expected to open before 2010. Shangri-La is unusual among international hotel companies in that it owns a significant proportion of its hotels; of the hotels under the group’s management not wholly owned by the company, most are owned by other companies in the Kuok Group, and especially by Shangri-La’s own major shareholder, Kerry Properties Ltd. Shangri-La hotels primarily operate under the luxury, five-star Shangri-La brand. The company also operates a smaller number of mid-range, business-oriented Traders hotels. Listed on the Hong Kong and Singapore Stock Exchanges, Shangri-La remains a tiny part of the Kuok business empire. Nonetheless, founder Robert Kuok holds an active interest in the group, and has stated his desire to see Shangri-La reach 100 hotels in his lifetime. In 2004, the company posted revenues of $726 million.
The Kuok family immigrated to Malaysia, then under British control, from the Fujian province in China in the first decade of the 20th century. Under patriarch Kuok Keng Kang the family entered the trading business, dealing in rice, flour, and sugar. Kuok, like…

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