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Tycoon silent on Facebook stake plan

PUBLISHED : Friday, 03 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 03 February, 2012, 12:00am

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As Facebook prepares for its US$5 billion initial public offering (IPO) in the US, the social-networking giant's high-profile investor in Hong Kong is keeping silent about his plans for the much-anticipated listing.

Tycoon Li Ka-shing (pictured) owns less than 1 per cent of Facebook through his charitable foundation.

That stake, which is believed to be about 0.4 per cent, could be worth upwards of US$400 million when California-based Facebook starts publicly selling its shares - the company's estimated value is around US$100 billion. Facebook filed for an IPO on Wednesday.

A spokeswoman for the Li Ka-shing Foundation said the organisation 'preferred not to comment' on its plans regarding Facebook.

According to a Dow Jones-owned blog, the foundation invested US$60 million in Facebook in 2007, with an option for a further US$60 million stake. This deal reportedly came through after a Facebook investor introduced it to a director of the foundation.

The foundation spokeswoman declined to confirm the amount of investment made, but said Facebook was one of 25 technology companies in the organisation's portfolio.

Founded by Li in 1980, the foundation has so far granted more than HK$12.5 billion to various education, health, culture and community projects in 19 markets around the world, according to its website.

It has acquired stakes in fast-developing companies over the past few years. After Facebook, its other prominent tech investment is the popular European online music service Spotify. It took part in Spotify's US$100 million round of financing last June.

Other technology investments include SecondMarket, a US online market for buying and selling so-called illiquid assets like bankruptcy claims; video-editing service Magisto; GPS navigation software provider Waze; smartphone applications developer Onavo; Web browsing service Summly; and HZO, which has developed a technology that can waterproof smartphones.

Hong Kong-listed Tencent, the mainland's leading online games and messaging company, also has an interest in the Facebook IPO. Tencent has a 10.26 per cent equity interest in Russian internet firm Digital Sky Technologies, which has a minority stake in Facebook.

7.5m

Last May there reportedly were this many children under 13 with Facebook accounts, violating its terms of service